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Cardboard Boxes as Kid Activities -- Keeping Them Busy!

Updated on October 19, 2014

Boxes--They might have contained furniture or large appliances before, but now they contain imagination!

I know that when I was a kid, it was a great delight when my folks came home with a large appliance or something else that required a large box. My folks might have enjoyed whatever came in the box, but my sister and I would put the box through a workout. That box would become a spaceship or a submarine or an airplane ... or a playhouse, a fort, or a castle.

So, if it's a miserable rainy or bad-weather day or your kids are stuck at home with the sniffles, how do you keep the boredom from getting to them (and to keep them from causing you to lose your mind)? Maybe a good selection of boxes will give them something to exercise their creativity and craftsmanship.

Chances are good that you could go out into your garage and find a cardboard box or two (or three). But if that's not an option, you can always run over to the UPS Store or a Public Storage place and pick up some nice large boxes and moving boxes.

Maybe pick up a few markers (the wash-off water-color versions are great for the younger kiddos), some packing tape (masking tape or duct tape also works), and bring those boxes home and you can get started.

Use a little imagination (even better, let the kids use their own imagination--to get it started, read them a story --or let them read on their own--about spaceships, submarines, trains, ships, trucks, forts, and castles), and supervise with the assembly and cutting (for the younger kids, you'll have to cut the "portholes", "doors", "windows", "peepholes" and other openings and constructions yourself).

The sky is the limit with how far you can go with the project.


Those long boring days stuck in a house during bad weather can be much better with a collection of cardboard boxes!

The Cardboard Box Book: 25 Things to Make and Do with and Empty Box
The Cardboard Box Book: 25 Things to Make and Do with and Empty Box

When being sick or having bad weather keeps the kiddos in the house, to avoid losing your sanity, you can't go wrong with having this book along with a nice collection of new or used cardboard boxes.

This book provides information on the tools and techniques available to create masterpieces (well, actually FUN projects!) with a collection of cardboard boxes. The boxes don't have to be huge -- in fact, the book even covers how to use small boxes to build interesting things. Definitely worth getting to avoid having that bored kid or bunches of kids at home fussing that there's nothing to do. Get your copy now!

 

Flat, Pristine, Cardboard....Full of Possibilities for Wild Imaginations!

Flat, Pristine, Cardboard....Full of Possibilities for Wild Imaginations!
Flat, Pristine, Cardboard....Full of Possibilities for Wild Imaginations!

Empty box on a drive-way, ready for new adventures!

Empty box on a drive-way, ready for new adventures!
Empty box on a drive-way, ready for new adventures!
Cardboard boxes, flattened, ready for repurposing!
Cardboard boxes, flattened, ready for repurposing!

What a cardboard box can become...

Sheets of flat cardboard can be used as "building sheets" and cardboard tubes can be used for supports. Sides of large cardboard boxes can be cut off to be used for the large "building sheets". But the cardboard boxes themselves can be used for play structures. For little kids, an unaltered box is sufficient to keep them busy for hours.

When I see an empty box -- especially the big ones -- I think of all the possibilities. A spaceship? A submarine? A party house? A limousine? A bus? An airplane? -- So many possibilities. And what's cool is that lately I've been seeing empty boxes everywhere! (And it's particularly cool that I have a small pickup truck--perfect way to haul excess cardboard!).

When I was in Colorado visiting my sister and her family, she and I were heading back from the store when we spied an empty air-conditioner box on a driveway. We asked if we could have the box--and the folks at the home said, "Of course." It was lucky that my sister was driving a station wagon--we folded the seats down and managed to get the box into the car--the box could be a fun playhouse for our 5-year old granddaughter and the neighbor kids!

Some boxes ready for new purposes! Just give the kids a chance .... and get out of the way!

Some boxes ready for new purposes!  Just give the kids a chance .... and get out of the way!
Some boxes ready for new purposes! Just give the kids a chance .... and get out of the way!

All About Boxes!

Although you can probably come up with a bunch of spur-of-the-moment ideas for what you want to make out of your box, the references and products below can help you with ideas on how to perfect the effect and to keep those idea juices flowing.

Get a few or all now so you can have 'em ready when you need to make a new creation!

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The Flat Panels of Cardboard Boxes Provide Plenty of Room for Artwork!

The Flat Panels of Cardboard Boxes Provide Plenty of Room for Artwork!
The Flat Panels of Cardboard Boxes Provide Plenty of Room for Artwork!

Sometimes the Flat Boxes Don't Want to Stay Upright - This One Is Supported by a PVC Pipe Frame!

Sometimes the Flat Boxes Don't Want to Stay Upright - This One Is Supported by a PVC Pipe Frame!
Sometimes the Flat Boxes Don't Want to Stay Upright - This One Is Supported by a PVC Pipe Frame!

Small Cardboard "White House", with Painted Garden and Landscaping

Small Cardboard "White House", with Painted Garden and Landscaping
Small Cardboard "White House", with Painted Garden and Landscaping

Small Cardboard "White House", Another View

Small Cardboard "White House", Another View
Small Cardboard "White House", Another View

Cardboard Sailboat... Complete with Anchor (Cardboard, of Course) and Sail!

Cardboard Sailboat... Complete with Anchor (Cardboard, of Course) and Sail!
Cardboard Sailboat... Complete with Anchor (Cardboard, of Course) and Sail!

Cardboard Castle Tower in Process of Being Set Up

Cardboard Castle Tower in Process of Being Set Up
Cardboard Castle Tower in Process of Being Set Up

Cardboard Castle, with Visitors Checking Out the Drawbridge Entrance

Cardboard Castle, with Visitors Checking Out the Drawbridge Entrance
Cardboard Castle, with Visitors Checking Out the Drawbridge Entrance

Cardboard Log Cabin, View One

Cardboard Log Cabin, View One
Cardboard Log Cabin, View One

Interior Shot of Cardboard Log Cabin

Interior Shot of Cardboard Log Cabin
Interior Shot of Cardboard Log Cabin

Close-up of Cardboard Log Cabin's Walls

Close-up of Cardboard Log Cabin's Walls
Close-up of Cardboard Log Cabin's Walls

Cardboard Camouflaged Limo or Hummer or Some Other Form of Transportation

Cardboard Camouflaged Limo or Hummer or Some Other Form of Transportation
Cardboard Camouflaged Limo or Hummer or Some Other Form of Transportation

Cardboard Army Tank, Complete with Cardboard Turret

Cardboard Army Tank, Complete with Cardboard Turret
Cardboard Army Tank, Complete with Cardboard Turret

Giving the collection of cardboard boxes the 'lab-test'. Hmmmm. What to create out of this?

Giving the collection of cardboard boxes the 'lab-test'. Hmmmm. What to create out of this?
Giving the collection of cardboard boxes the 'lab-test'. Hmmmm. What to create out of this?

Popping out like a 'jack-in-the-box'? Cardboard box ideas are starting to come around.

Popping out like a 'jack-in-the-box'? Cardboard box ideas are starting to come around.
Popping out like a 'jack-in-the-box'? Cardboard box ideas are starting to come around.

Cardboard House with Roof Tiles Made of Painted Cardboard Egg Flats

Cardboard House with Roof Tiles Made of Painted Cardboard Egg Flats
Cardboard House with Roof Tiles Made of Painted Cardboard Egg Flats

Using a fluorescent light to create a 'reading nook' from a cardboard box.

Using a fluorescent light to create a 'reading nook' from a cardboard box.
Using a fluorescent light to create a 'reading nook' from a cardboard box.

Cardboard box 'mini-tunnel'? Maybe we could make a maze like in the hamster cage?

Cardboard box 'mini-tunnel'? Maybe we could make a maze like in the hamster cage?
Cardboard box 'mini-tunnel'? Maybe we could make a maze like in the hamster cage?

Turning a cardboard box in the living room into a 'formula-one race car'.

Turning a cardboard box in the living room into a 'formula-one race car'.
Turning a cardboard box in the living room into a 'formula-one race car'.

Checking out the windows and decorations of an outside yard tiki hut.

Checking out the windows and decorations of an outside yard tiki hut.
Checking out the windows and decorations of an outside yard tiki hut.

Getting a view from one of the rooms of a cardboard 'tiki hut'.

Getting a view from one of the rooms of a cardboard 'tiki hut'.
Getting a view from one of the rooms of a cardboard 'tiki hut'.

Enjoying a cool tropical drink -- pineapple and mango juice -- on the 'front porch' of a cardboard tiki-hut.

Enjoying a cool tropical drink -- pineapple and mango juice -- on the 'front porch' of a cardboard tiki-hut.
Enjoying a cool tropical drink -- pineapple and mango juice -- on the 'front porch' of a cardboard tiki-hut.

And Yes, You Can Make *Costumes* (Halloween or Otherwise) With Cardboard Boxes! - Cardboard panels and boxes provide handy rigid material for costumes of all so

Cardboard shark costume -- taking a break
Cardboard shark costume -- taking a break

It takes a bit of planning and "design" (working with small boxes to figure out how to cut things to make the costume look right... but once you've got the plan down, you can create a great costume! Robots, Shrimp or Lobster, Medieval Knight Suit of Armor, Computer, Airplane, Sailboat, ... these all make for interesting costumes... ideas, anyone?

You can also create your own cardboard cutout stand-up posters from cardboard panels if you have the patience. Just get a photo or image you'd like to have large, print it on a large-format printer (like that used for banners), or just print the image out in sections that fit your printer and then assemble them into the completed large-sized image. Then paste these assembled sections over the cardboard "standup" cutout.

Cardboard Shark "Costume" Worn by Costume Party Goer...

Cardboard Shark "Costume" Worn by Costume Party Goer...
Cardboard Shark "Costume" Worn by Costume Party Goer...

Well, the Shrimp Costume is Made of Cardboard. There Was More of it Until it Rained...

Well, the Shrimp Costume is Made of Cardboard. There Was More of it Until it Rained...
Well, the Shrimp Costume is Made of Cardboard. There Was More of it Until it Rained...

Okay, you've got a cardboard box (or a bunch of them!) - So what would you like to create with them?

Ah, where to start? Gather up the duck-tape, the markers, the paints, the things you'll use to cut (SAFELY please!) port-holes, windows, doors, and other necessary openings or "trimming". Ah wait... decide what you want to make first! Then, you can more wisely choose the types of accessory materials you'll be needing!

So, what would you like to make?

See results

Copyright and Attribution Notice

NOTE: All photographic images in this website, with exception of those obviously in the Amazon, eBay, YouTube, and similar sections, were shot on my own camera by me and are thus mine. Likewise, the narrative is original and based on my experiences. Your mileage may vary.

© 2008 David Gardner

See that Little Box below? Well.... Say Something in the BOX!

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    izabella-wollbrandt 3 years ago

    Great inspiration for our kinda!

  • Lee Hansen profile image

    Lee Hansen 3 years ago from Vermont

    We recently created a cardboard box pirate ship complete with mast and sails ... never run out of ideas to be creative with cardboard boxes in our home.

  • amytrumpeter profile image

    Amy Trumpeter 3 years ago from Oxford

    Amazing! We used to love making dens out of cardboard boxes as kids!

  • MVKilgore profile image

    M. Victor Kilgore 3 years ago

    I loved cardboard boxes and imagination when I was knee high to a short duck...and I love seeing that creativity in my kids. fun lens

  • injuryatty profile image

    injuryatty 3 years ago

    Make's me think, what can i do with a piece of box. It reminds me about my childhood!

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