Step away from the recycling box!
Before you throw away those loo roll tubes, that Amazon packaging or the truly ENORMOUS container that your new washing machine arrived in, you need to check out all of the brilliant things you can make with them (and blow your kids’ minds in the process).
From amazing playhouses that are even better than their shop-bought equivalents to vehicles that’ll take them on the road, to the skies and even to outer space, here are 22 genius cardboard box projects for kids.
Whether you’re a cardboard craft novice or looking for something to really challenge your creative skills, you’ll find a toy that the whole family will be wowed by in this list.
Now your only problem is deciding which one to make first…
1. A gingerbread house
How cute (and simple) is this?! Let the kids decorate a few paper plate lollipops and candies and you’re all set.
2. A camper van
Cardboard and duct tape team up for this stylish vintage-inspired camper van — the perfect use for larger-sized boxes.
3. A greengrocers
According to the mum who made this incredible shopfront for her daughters, this only takes four hours, tops!
4. A Lego town
For the family that always fights over the best Lego boards — you can make this big enough for everyone to get involved at once.
Musically-inclined kids will go crazy for these — what an upgrade on the classic elastic-band-over-a-tissue-box idea!
6. Target golf
A trip to the mini-golf course can be expensive for big families, but this cheap, homemade target golf set will cost you pennies.
7. A castle
This project transforms a washing machine box into a toy fit for royalty — we wonder if Kate and Wills will be knocking one of these up for Charlotte and George?
8. Ring toss game
Just one of many awesome reasons that toilet and kitchen roll tubes should never be destined for the bin.
Early Learning Centre ain’t got nothing on these beauties (and how sweet are the tiny trees?)
10. A rocket
Got a space-obsessed little one in your life? Let them reach for the stars with this surprisingly simple cardboard rocket.
11. An oven
The plastic plate hobs are a genius touch! Invest in some plastic fruit and pans and they’ll be happily cooking away for hours.
This cardboard craft would be fab for the time of year when Santa’s about. Leave their wishlists inside and then pen a suitably festive reply for them to find in return…
13. A kennel
Beloved soft toys need a home, but you don’t have to pay Pets at Home prices for them! This project was made as part of an adorable play vet clinic, which we highly recommend you replicate as well.
14. A barn
If, like pretty much every parent ever, you’ve got a tub overflowing with plastic farm animals, you need to knock up one of these. The kids can get involved with the painting too.
15. An aeroplane
This looks advanced, but it’s actually one of the simplest designs of the bunch! Keep your plane, erm, plain, and then let the little ones customise it with crayons and stickers.
16. A car
Vroom vroom! The tutorial says this car is for under 10s, but we can imagine some bigger kids trying to squeeze in too (looking at you, hubs…)
17. An elevator
Okay, so this nifty little elevator won’t actually transport them upstairs, but they’ll love the magic of pressing all the drawn-on buttons and pretending regardless.
18. A maze
A great game for summer fetes or birthday parties, this maze is easy to build and break down again, so if you’ve got somewhere to store it, you can use it year after year.
19. A camera
A cardboard camera is the ideal creation for kids who won’t stop snapping pictures on your phone — finally, you might be able to regain some space on your camera roll!
20. A dolls house
One of the ultimate treasured childhood items, this easy-to-construct dollshouse will be pride of place in any doll lover’s bedroom.
21. Dolls house bunkbeds
Well, once they’ve got the house they need a place to sleep. We wonder if we can get lollipop-stick stairs for our beds…
22. A fairy tree
Sprinkle with glitter and this tree will make the most magical addition to any garden. Altogether now, ‘I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!’
And if you don’t have any big boxes don’t worry, here’s a fun and fast craft to do with the kids using nothing but some crafting basics and a couple of old shoeboxes.
23. A cardboard village
When your ambition is set a little lower than a full-sized Wendy house this pretty fairy-like village makes the perfect activity to keep little hands out of trouble.