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Imagination and Cardboard Boxes

Imagination and Cardboard Boxes | Gryphon House

The term “think outside the box” doesn’t have to be taken literally. A cardboard box is a great thing parents and teachers can use with their kids! Children can find excitement and inspiration from the simplest of objects, and cardboard boxes can be used in a whole range of ways, from imagination activities for toddlers to art projects for kids. Children can build houses out of cardboard bricks, make a TV by cutting the middle out of the box, or trace and cutout cardboard ornaments for Christmas. The opportunities are only as limited as your imagination!

Here are a few arts and crafts for toddlers from MaryAnn Kohl’s Preschool Art that utilize the endless possibilities of the cardboard box.


Box Car


Art Process (Note: steps may require adult help):

  1. Cut a hole in the bottom of the box big enough to fit over the child’s hips
  2. Turn the box over so the hole is on top
  3. Paint the box any way you want! Allow paint to dry
  4. Poke four holes in the box using scissors. These will be for the car wheels
  5. To make wheels, push paper fasteners through paper plates and attach them to the holes of the box. Paint or decorate your wheels if you want to
  6. Cover paper plates with aluminum foil and attach to the front of the box with paper fasteners. These are the car’s headlights
  7. Poke two holes on either side of the top of the box. Thread a heavy string through one hole. Tie a double knot so the string cannot slip through
  8. After the child steps into the box car, pull the string around the back of the child’s neck and over to the second hole. Tie another double knot so that the car hangs from the child’s shoulders
  9. Now the box car is ready to drive!

Big House


Art Process (Note: steps may require adult help):

  1. Decide what kind of house you want to make. Will it be Snow White’s cottage? A spooky haunted house? A prairie shack?
  2. Cut the cardboard panel to look like a roof shape. Cut as many doors and windows as desired. Make sure to leave one side of each opening  uncut to create a hinge
  3. Place the panel flat on the floor and paint the house to have boards, bricks, shutters, shingles, or anything else you want. Allow paint to dry completely
  4. Make drawings of what you want to be in your house (squirrels and flowers, ghosts and bats, princesses, etc.) on pieces of paper big enough to cover the openings
  5. Tape the pictures over the openings on the back of the house so the tape doesn’t show
  6. Lean the house up against a wall where it can be secured to stand on its own with tape
  7. Have fun showing off your drawings by opening and closing the doors and windows

Big Box Sculpture


  • Cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes (shoe boxes, milk cartons, match boxes, shipping boxes, etc.)
  • Cardboard tubes (i.e. from toilet paper or paper towels)
  • Any other paper or cardboard you can find
  • White glue
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Strong yarn
  • Tempera paint with dish soap added
  • Paintbrushes

Art Process:

  1. Tape boxes and tubes together to make a sculpture. Fit boxes inside one another, bend them to make new shapes—just be creative!
  2. Use yarn to string boxes together or hang them from the ceiling
  3. Glue any additional art materials onto your sculpture
  4. Paint the cardboard sculpture. Let it dry overnight 

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