5 easy cardboard crafts

Image: BBC

You know that old saying, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”? This wisdom clearly does not apply to children and cardboard boxes. We’ve all witnessed kids being far more enthralled by a toy’s packaging rather than the treasures held within. So in the spirit of making lemons into lemonade, or making cardboard boxes into… other cardboard things, here are some fun and easy ideas to get you going.

Cardboard crafts - kids


If your kids love The Very Hungry Caterpillar book, or even if they don’t particularly, this easy cardboard creation is sure to please.

What you need:

  • Egg carton (dozen)
  • Red paint
  • Green paint
  • Glue
  • Black pipe cleaners
  • Googly eyes

What to do:

  1. Cut a row of six egg cups from the carton, and trim and tidy it. If you feel your kids are too young to use scissors, then you should do this part yourself.
  2. Paint the front egg cup red, and the other 5 cups green.
  3. Once the paint is dry, glue on the eyes on the red cup.
  4. Pierce two holes on the top of the caterpillar’s head. Thread the pipe cleaners through the holes so it pokes up as antennae.

Cardboard crafts - caterpillar

Image and instructions: Kidspot


Courtesy of Estefi Machado, this one is super easy because all you need is a large cardboard box and the bare minimum of artistic skills. In return, you get a pretty cool front loading washing machine without the price tag (or the ability to wash clothes, but oh well). It’s also a pretty fun way to encourage your kids to store their dirty clothes in one place.

What you need:

  • Large cardboard box
  • Utility knife
  • Plastic
  • Thick black marker

What to do:

Find a large plain cardboard box. If you can’t find a plain box, get some plain brown paper to cover the box. Using a thick black marker, draw in all the knobs, buttons and whatever other machine settings you like. Then cut a large hole in the front of the box, leaving one side on, to form a door that can swing open and shut. Cut the plastic to the same shape as the hole, cover the hole to make a ‘window’, and voila – you have a washing machine!

Cardboard crafts - washing machine

Image: Estefi Machado


Fun to make and fun to play, this mini foosball table by U Create is a winner!

What you need:

  • Shoe box
  • Small wooden dowels (make sure these are longer than the width of the shoe box)
  • Utility knife
  • Marker pen
  • Ruler
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Wrapping paper (to decorate the box)
  • Spray paint
  • Tape
  • Ping Pong balls or large marble

What to do:

1. Determine how many ‘players’ you want on the dowels.  For a typical shoe box, ideally each team has two dowels each, with three players on each of the middle dowels and two goalies on the end dowels.

2. Stand the clothes pegs up on the dowel and put the dowel right against the outside of the box (see photo below). Put a mark for the hole above the point where the dowel touches the box, ensuring that there is enough space for the pegs to spin around without hitting the bottom of the box.

Cardboard crafts - foosball
Image: U Create

3. Make a hole on your marks by pushing the tip of the knife in and turning it around. Alternatively, you may be able to use a hole punch.

4. Push the dowels through the holes and mark the inside of the box where you want the hole on the other side. Make the holes for the other side of the box.

5. To determine where you want the pegs placed, put the dowels and clothes pegs in the box where you want them. Mark the points of the dowels where you want the pegs to go.

Cardboard crafts - foosball
Image: U Create

6. Hot glue the pegs onto the dowels.

7. Once dry, paint or spray paint the dowels in two different colours of your choice.

8. Cover the box with wrapping paper, then cut out a goal on either end of the box. Ensure it is big enough to let the ball through.

9. Put the dowels in carefully, by sliding one end in through the inside of the box, then the other side.

Note: You can adapt these instructions for a larger box, as long as you remember to allow space for the players and ball to move around freely.

Cardboard crafts - foosball

Image and instructions: U Create 


After a busy day clogging the toilet with copious amounts of toilet paper, what’s a resourceful toddler to do with the empty roll? This! Check out this easy crafty solution courtesy of Tot School.

What you need:

  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Kids’ craft paint
  • Small bowl (preferably with flat bottom)
  • Paper

What you do:

  1. Fashion one end of the toilet roll into whatever shape you desire. You can do hearts, stars or (if you’re feeling lazy) circles.
  2. Pour some craft paint into a bowl, ensuring it is just deep enough to cling to the end of the toilet roll.
  3. Let your kids go stamp crazy on a large piece of paper.

Cardboard crafts - toilet paper

Image and instructions: Tot School 


This gorgeous mailbox from Little Red Window looks just like the real thing and makes a great way to encourage children to write letters.

What you need:

  • Cardboard box, preferably tall rectangular shape with flat bottom
  • Utility knife
  • Hot glue
  • Paint and other decorations as desired

What to do:

  1. Make sure your cardboard box is sealed down the bottom, leaving the top flaps open.

Cardboard crafts - postbox

2. On two opposite top flaps (the longer edges), mark out a semicircle and cut. Tip: Use half of the flaps you cut off and glue them on the inside to strengthen the semi-circle flaps (see picture below).Cardboard crafts - postbox

3. On the side that will be the front of the postbox, draw a rectangle and cut along 3 sides, leaving one tall side uncut.

Cardboard crafts - postbox

4. Cut a flat piece of cardboard that will cover the top of the curved edge of the postbox.

5. Next, you will need to get this cardboard to curve smoothly. To achieve this, use your knife to score parallel lines (about 2.5 cm apart) on the back of the box across the width. Only lightly cut into the first layer of the cardboard, no deeper. Then, fold the cardboard gently into a curve.Cardboard crafts - postbox

6. Cut a slot near the top of the curve for the mail to go through.

7. Glue the curved cardboard to the top of the mailbox, keeping the glue on the inside where possible.

Cardboard crafts - postbox

8. Paint and decorate the postbox how you like. The following picture is how the box was decorated by Little Red Window, but for this time of year, you could consider a fun Christmas theme. How about a cute ‘Letters to Santa’ box? Your kids can use their Personalised Stationery from Stuck On You so that Santa knows exactly what to give to whom!

Cardboard crafts - postbox

Images and full instructions: Little Red Window