What You'll Need:
• Two 20x20-inch boxes
• One 30x30-inch box
• Duct tape
• Roll of kraft paper
• Craft knife
• Plastic chain (available at Home Depot)
• Pipe cleaners
• Hot glue
• 2x3-inch Velcro squares
What To Do:
1. Turn the boxes into open-ended columns: Fold up the flaps on the top and bottom of each box. Tape in place.
2. Make a drawbridge: Draw a template for the door on the kraft paper and cut out. Trace it onto the lower portion of the tall column. Cut out.
3. Cut a small hole on either side of the door opening—each should be just large enough for the chain. Thread the chain through and knot the ends inside the column. To attach the chain to the door, poke the ends of a pipe cleaner through the front of the door on each side. Twist onto the chain and secure with hot glue.
4. Cut interior and side doors so the kids can pass through.
5. Make windows that open and close: Draw a template on paper and mark the center line. Trace onto the boxes, and cut out, leaving the sides connected so they can open and close.
6. Cut notches across the top of the castle.
7. Attach the sides to the center box using Velcro.
Put together this smart cardboard shape sorter to help your toddler learn shapes and sizes.
What you'll need: 18x18x18-inch box, circle compass, ruler, pencil, cutting mat, X-Acto knife, adhesive contact paper, colored masking tape, hot-glue gun
Make it: While box is flat, draw desired shapes on all six sides using a compass and/or ruler and pencil. Slide cutting mat behind shapes and cut out using an X-Acto knife. Trace each cutout circle onto contact paper, then use a compass to draw a circle around it that is 1 inch larger in diameter. Cut out the ring and adhere it to the corresponding circle cutout on the cardboard box. Repeat for other circles. To outline squares, use strips of colored masking tape. Use hot-glue gun to seal the box shut on both ends. Give your child play balls and toys to put through the holes.
A crafted cardboard bed will give your child's fave doll some serious slumber. Plus, it's so E-Zzz to make.
What you'll need: 17x11x11-inch box, scissors, paper, tape, pencil, crafts knife, cutting mat, hot-glue gun, pom-poms, large sequins
Make it: While box is flat, cut off the four top flaps. Fold a piece of paper in half so it measures 8 1/2x5 1/2 inches. Hold folded paper vertically and cut a decorative design across the top portion. Unfold, tape to one of the short side panels of the box, and trace design. Use X-Acto knife and cutting mat to create headboard design in cardboard. Repeat to create footboard design on opposite side panel. Assemble the bottom of box and secure shut with hot-glue gun. Embellish the bedposts with pom-poms and the frame with sequins; secure with glue.
Cut notches along the top of an extra-large box to make a cardboard castle. Add tiny knights and toy horses for hours of play. The only thing missing from this fantastic fortress is a moat.
What you'll need: 20x20x20-inch box, scissors, ruler, pencil, X-Acto knife, cutting mat, hot-glue gun, gray acrylic or tempera paint, paintbrush, 2 or 3 small cardboard boxes, red string, chenille stems, striped drinking straws, small pom-poms, felt
Make it: While box is flat, cut off the four top flaps. To cut towers at corners, draw a 6x11-inch rectangle centered at the top of each side and cut out using an X-Acto knife and cutting mat. Create a crenellated edge by making 1x1-inch notches around the top edge of the box with an X-Acto knife and cutting mat. Draw a 7-inch-tall drawbridge door, as shown, and cut so the bottom is still attached to the box. Use a pencil to poke two sets of corresponding holes on either side of the door and frame. Cut out 1-inch squares for windows where desired using an x-Acto knife and cutting mat. Assemble box and hot-glue bottom closed. Paint outside of box with two coats of gray paint and let dry. Place assembled, smaller boxes inside castle to create height and hallways for figures. Cut two 6-inch lengths of string and thread through corresponding holes on door and frame; knot to secure. To make flags, insert a chenille stem into a straw and glue a pom-pom to one end. Cut a triangular flag shape from felt and glue short side underneath pom-pom. Attach flags to the box by pushing the chenille stems through the cardboard and bending.
A fun cardboard car and gas pump combo will drive your kids wild!
Kids will think it's wheely awesome when they find a real key in the ignition of this cardboard car.
What you'll need:
30x16x14-inch box, scissors, hot-glue gun, black electrical tape, blue painter's tape, self-adhesive utility lights (available at hardware stores), 2 large yellow and 3 red plastic jar lids, 2 large red pom-poms, 2 tin cupcake liners, black marker, colored paper, yellow masking tape, blue plastic dinner plate, key, 4 large blue plastic jar lids, 4 large black coffee can lids, 1 plastic ketchup flip top
Make it: Position assembled box so that flaps are on top and bottom. Hot-glue bottom of box shut and glue the two longer top flaps down inside the box. Cut the remaining two flaps so the rear is 3 1/2 inches long and the front is 7 inches long. Bend the front flap in half at a right angle to create a triangular dashboard. Cut two 3 1/2-inch triangles from scrap cardboard and glue to each end of dashboard; secure with hot-glue gun. Adhere two horizontal strips of black electrical tape to front of dashboard for windshield wipers, and use strips of blue painter's tape to create a grille, car doors, and door handles, as shown. Mount each self-adhesive utility light to a yellow plastic jar lid and hot-glue to the front of car for headlights. Hot-glue two red plastic jar lids to back of car for taillights, and glue a large red pom-pom inside each. Glue a metal cupcake liner above each red taillight. Use marker to draw a license plate on colored paper and attach between taillights using yellow tape. Hot-glue the remaining red plastic jar lid to the center of a blue dinner plate and glue onto dashboard for a steering wheel. Push key into cardboard to the right of steering wheel. Glue a blue plastic jar lid to the center of a black plastic coffee can lid; repeat to make four wheels, and hot-glue each in place. Hot-glue a ketchup cap to the back left side of car for a gas tank.
Have your tot personalize his cardboard car by helping him create a fun license plate.
The best part about this cute cardboard gas pump? Every fill-up is free!
What you'll need: 10x8x12-inch box, 12x10x10-inch box, hot-glue gun, scissors, green paper, double-stick tape, black contact paper, X-Acto knife, 5 feet of 1/2-inch clear plastic tubing (available at hardware stores), spray bottle, green masking tape, assorted office supply stickers and labels
Make it: Assemble both boxes and hot-glue flaps shut. Position the smaller box vertically on the floor and place the larger box on top horizontally; secure in place with hot-glue gun. Cut a 6-inch square of green paper and adhere to front of bottom box, as shown, with double-stick tape. Cut the letters G, A, and S and a 3x5-inch rectangle from black contact paper. Place the letters over the green square on front and stick the rectangle on the right side panel of the top box. Use an X-Acto knife to cut a 1-inch square in the right side panel of the top box and a 1-inch hole in the top of the right side panel of the bottom box. Hot-glue one end of the clear plastic tubing to the bottom of the spray bottle and insert handle into the 1-inch square on top box to hang. Insert the opposite end of tube into the 1-inch hole in the bottom box; secure with hot-glue gun. Attach a piece of green paper to the front of the top box and secure with green masking tape. Embellish paper with assorted stickers and labels as shown.
Your mini chefs are bound to cook up some fun in this pint-size cardboard kitchen.
Stock this fab cardboard refrigerator with faux food for hours of pretend play.
What you'll need: 16x12x28-inch box, 16x12x9-inch box, X-Acto knife, hot-glue gun, crafts knife, thick rope
Make it: Assemble both boxes and place the smaller box on top of the larger box so the top of the larger box is the same length and width as the bottom of the smaller box; secure together with hot-glue gun. Use an X-Acto knife to cut the top, bottom, and right edges of the front panel of each box to create fridge and freezer doors. Cut two holes, about 6 inches apart, in the freezer door and two holes, about 9 inches apart, in the fridge door. Thread a length of rope through each set of holes to make handles and knot in back to secure.
You may not be able to get your child to put his dishes in the real sink, but we promise he'll spend plenty of time at this cardboard one.
What you'll need: 18x12x22-inch box, small metal or plastic bowl with lip, pencil, X-Acto knife, cutting mat, hot-glue gun, small Play-Doh container, 2 large plastic bottle caps, bubble container, thick rope, fabric panels or pillowcases
Make it: Position flat box so flaps are in front and back. On a short side panel of the box (this will be the top), turn the bowl upside down on the left side and trace rim. Cut out the circle, about 1/4 inch inside the traced line, using an X-Acto knife and cutting mat. Cut a 1-inch hole in the top right and top left corners of the front of the sink; thread a length of rope through, and knot each end behind to secure. Assemble box and close flaps with hot-glue gun. Rest the bowl inside the round cutout on top of the sink. Behind the bowl, place an upside-down Play-Doh container between two plastic bottle caps and secure all with hot-glue gun. Attach an empty bubble container to the Play-Doh container with hot-glue to create a faucet. Hang fabric panels or pillowcases from rope to create a curtain.
This cardboard stove will be a hot hit with your tot chef.
What you'll need: 12x12x22-inch box, X-Acto knife, cutting mat, thick rope, 3 brads, 3 Play-Doh lids, 3 plastic caps, 4 CDs, 20x12-inch piece of cardboard, scissors, 3 adhesive-backed kitchen hooks
Make it: Position flat box so flaps will be at right and left sides. Use an X-Acto knife and cutting mat to cut an oven door, as shown. Cut two 1-inch holes, about 6 inches apart, on oven door for handle; thread a thick rope through and knot in back to secure. Push a brad through the center of each plastic Play-Doh lid and use to secure to the front of the stove for controls above the oven door. Hot-glue a plastic cap over each brad. Assemble box and hot-glue flaps shut. Glue the four CDs to the top of the box for burners. Bend the right and left 4 inches of the 20x12-inch cardboard piece at right angles to create a backsplash about 12x12 inches. Trim bent side sections into triangular shapes, keeping the full width at the base. Round off the top of the middle section with scissors and hot-glue to back of stove, as shown. Adhere plastic kitchen hooks to backsplash to hold play utensils.
Originally published in the January 2011 issue of Parents magazine.