Cardboard Crafts

By Rachel McMinn, Early Childhood Educator, Buckle My Shoe Preschool April 7, 2020

Since we have been embracing our time at home together with lots of fun activities, we have gotten a bit creative in what we use for all of our art projects. What we always seem to have an abundance of is: cardboard. So, I have made it a goal to reuse and repurpose cardboard as much as humanly possible. Here are some of the projects that have kept us busy in the past couple of weeks. We hope you can enjoy some (or all!) of them as well. 

Making a cardboard house

Take a very large box and cut out a big rectangle panel from it. You can use this opportunity to cut one edge like a roof, or you can keep it intact and cut out a separate roof to glue on. 

Also, cut out small rectangles and squares to become windows and doors for your house. Or a chimney. It’s always nice to have these little pieces lying around for collages, anyway. 

I like to paint the entire house white first. It will make everything that we add to it much brighter. Once it’s painted, you’re going to need to let it dry for a while. 

Once dry, use a strong glue, like tacky glue, to add your door, windows and anything else you want to put onto the house. You can paint, draw, and collage to make your house exactly the way that you’d like it. We even drew ourselves peeking out from one of the windows! 

Cardboard critters

Another fabulous way to use up some cardboard is to create some little creatures! Provide your child with a variety of shapes – circles, squares, rectangles and triangles are perfect. Make sure they have a few different sizes of each. Let your child explore these shapes and see what kind of animals or creatures they would like to make. 

These are amazing for storytelling! As soon as we started creating, my daughter was naming the animals, telling me where they live, what they like to eat, what friends they might need . . . it really gets the language skills going!

We made a sheep, a duck, and a dinosaur. Later, my daughter also wanted to make a pond for the duck so she used a big box that still had three walls and covered it in blue paint. 

A few days later, my daughter requested that we also make a rabbit. While I did the gluing, she directed me on what parts of the body the bunny needed. And she did all the coloring on her own. We like to use tempera crayons as they are much less messy than actual paint. They are bright and last for quite a while, too! Our favorite brand is Ooly.  

She also decided that the bunny was going to need carrots. We created those with cardboard as well and added handprint tops to the carrots. I used this as an opportunity to tell her how carrots grow, with only the greens sticking up out of the garden and the yummy orange part growing deep down in the soil. Using one of our lovely pieces of cardboard that came inside of a box, we pretended to harvest the carrots for our bunny friend.

Yarn wrapped cardboard

If you have yarn, string, ribbon from presents, or anything else similar around your apartment, you can use it to wrap around the cardboard. We made a big letter T, as it’s my daughter’s first initial, and wrapped different colors and textures all around it. If you don’t have any, you could also use different colors of tape, or simply glue buttons, beads or decorative papers onto it. 

Cardboard is such a versatile material! We use it almost every day now in our daily projects. What’s your favorite way to use cardboard? 

Rachel McMinn is an early childhood educator at Buckle My School Preschool in Tribeca, who has taught the young 2-year-olds for almost ten years. She holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College and a Writing degree from Pratt Institute. She lives in Brooklyn with her infant daughter, post-production & screenwriting husband, and two attention-seeking cats. 
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