Do your kids need something to occupy their hands while you’re busy? Do you wish there was a budget-friendly alternative to expensive toys that get thrown away after a month or two? As a parent, it can feel like an uphill battle to find ways to entertain your little ones. Luckily there are plenty of cardboard box activities for kids to enjoy.
While your kiddo might be on the move constantly, cardboard box activities have the benefit of being safe, cheap and endlessly entertaining for curious little minds.
These are the best cardboard box activity ideas to try with your toddlers and bubs. Give them a go and watch their faces light up.
What Can You Do With Cardboard Boxes For Your Kids?
When someone says cardboard boxes, you probably think about the big box you have leftover from the new vacuum or kitchen appliance. As an adult, cardboard boxes don’t really spark much interest - usually, they just mean more recycling!
But for a creative little one, a cardboard box is a blank canvas with a tonne of possibilities. With a little imagination and a few spare, clean cardboard boxes you can get hours of happy noises and playtime.
So, what can you do with cardboard boxes for kids?
14 Best Cardboard Box Activities For Kids
1. Cardboard Box Aquarium
Has your little one become obsessed with sea creatures? Or maybe they’re old enough to beg you for their own goldfish. This cardboard box aquarium is one of the best cardboard box activities for kids because it’s super easy to make and can also satisfy those pet fish cravings.
You can use a cereal box as the body of the aquarium and then make cut-out fish to decorate and hang inside the box. Why not scavenge outside for twigs and leaves as tank decor too?
2. The Cardboard Box Castle
There are lots of games to make out of cardboard boxes, and what’s better than playing prince or princess in your very own castle?
For this cardboard craft, it’s best to have at least two medium-sized boxes and one large box, plus some toilet roll tubes to use for turrets. Your bubba can help you line up the boxes into the castle of their dreams, with plenty of opportunity for the chaos of course.
3. Cardboard Box Skeeball
With so many cardboard box activities for kids out there, it’s hard to decide on just one. This cardboard box skeeball is one of the best games to make out cardboard boxes, because it brings out your kiddo’s competitive streak.
This is low-effort to make as you only need one small box and another strip of carboard to make the structure, but it can give your toddler hours of fun (and gives parents a chance to sit down for a while too).
4. Cardboard Box Airplane
This has got to be one of the cutest cardboard box activities for babies because when you’re all finished you can grab an adorable photo of your baby in the pilot’s seat. With a sprinkle of imagination and a generous amount of double-sided tape, you can craft a unique mini airplane out of just a couple of medium-sized cardboard boxes.
Once you’ve created the plane you can give your bub free reign with some colouring pencils to add their own splash of creativity.
5. Cardboard Box Toy Parking Garage
A cardboard box parking garage is one of the most popular cardboard box activities for 3-year-old kiddos. Parents love it too because it subtly teaches your kids to organise and store away their toys, finding fun in tidiness.
And why stop at a parking garage? If the little one in your life prefers animals over cars, why not use the same toilet roll tube structure to make a zoo?
6. Cardboard Box Kaleidoscope
All you need to create a cardboard box kaleidoscope is 5 minutes, an unused cardboard envelope and reflective tape.
Cover one side of the cardboard with the reflective tape, then form a triangular tube with the cardboard by folding it gently. Voila, your kids can trek all over the house or in the backyard holding their kaleidoscope up to intriguing objects to get a cool visual effect.
7. Cardboard Box Train Tunnel
If you want to try cardboard box activities for kids and you also have a love for trains, try making this train tunnel together. It’s incredibly simple but gives your bub the opportunity to decorate the tunnel inside and out however they want.
As a bonus for older kids, they can make the tunnel as long and intricate as they like. Make the tunnel shapes ahead of time and let your kiddo set it up as their imagination runs wild.
8. Cardboard Box Food Truck
As adults we find the most delicious creations from food trucks, so why not let your little one indulge their foodie side too? Make the shape of the food truck with a small, oblong box and stick cardboard tubes to the underside as wheels. From there, this food truck is in your kiddo’s hands.
They could design a custom taco truck, and even make little cardboard customers to come and enjoy their make-believe culinary skills.
9. Cardboard Box Easel
A cardboard box easel is an absolute must for any aspiring tiny artists! It’s so easy to make, just fold a sturdy cardboard box, creating an optional base as well to keep it steady while your little artist gest creative.
Top tip: make sure the box you use is slightly bigger than the paper your little one will be using on it.
10. Cardboard Box Boat
All aboard, little sailors. This is a fantastic idea if you have a baby in need of entertainment. Make this boat together, allowing them to decorate and name their very own vessel!
Once you’re done, sit your little one in their ship and you have a great photo opportunity that’s sure to bring smiles when you’re looking back at the family albums.
11. Cardboard Box Carriage
Some of the best cardboard box activities for kids are also the ones that take a little more effort. This cardboard box carriage can be used as a permanent decoration in a playroom or as a group party activity.
Cut out two large carriage sides and stick them either side of a stool. Add on some wheels and your magical carriage is ready for the most imaginative minds.
12. Cardboard Box Puppet Theatre
Many of us have memories of childhood puppet theatres. Share those memories by creating this super simple cardboard box puppet theatre. All you need for this is one large box, preferably one that is fairly tall.
Open the box out and trim both short ends until you have a cardboard wall. Cut out a theatre hole closer to the top, and your kiddos can help decorate to their heart’s content. When they’re satisfied with the result, it’s time for a puppet show!
13. Cardboard Box TV
Similar to the cardboard box aquarium, all you need is a cereal box. Cut out a hole on one side as the ‘tv screen’, leaving the underside open, and your little ones can use props nd decorations to put on their own shows.
If your kids are budding actors or actresses, you can take this idea a step further. By using a larger box to create the TV surround, lay the open bottom side of the box across two stools so that your little ones can stand up inside the box and appear on TV! Go crazy with your backgrounds or even print out scenes from their favourite shows.
14. Cardboard Shoebox Dollhouse
This is a true classic when it comes to cardboard box activities for toddlers. Create a stunning dollhouse from a shoebox turned on its side.
You and your and your kiddo can play interior designer, carefully crafting pieces of furniture from cardboard - or make use of their doll set if easier.
Is it safe for children to play with cardboard boxes?
Playing with cardboard boxes is safe for children, but you should always supervise play, especially if scissors, glue or sticky tape is involved.
It’s always best to keep anything with a choking or swallowing risk away from the baby too, so cardboard box activities are safest when done with your careful parental supervision.
What are some simple cardboard box activities for babies?
The simplest cardboard box activities for babies are ones that involve lots of colouring and decorating. The cardboard box aeroplane, boat and easel are super simple and quick. In less than 10 minutes you can create something that your bub can enjoy and interact with.
What games can you make out of cardboard boxes?
The best games to make out of cardboard boxes are also low-effort. The cardboard box skeeball can be done with just one box and can be adapted to be bigger or smaller depending on how old your kiddo is. Other cardboard box game ideas include whack-a-mole, Snakes & Ladders and marble runs.