Recycled Cardboard Art for Kids

by Lisa Walker, Demand Media
    That box is an empty canvas.

    That box is an empty canvas.

    It's a well-known fact that kids love boxes, so you don't need to spend a lot of money on art materials to bring out his creativity at the craft table. Set him off with an idea and watch his imagination do the work to turn your recycled cardboard into his own little masterpieces.

    Cardboard Tubes

    Cardboard tubes and toilet roll tubes crop up a lot in kiddie art projects. Choose ones that involve decorating but not too much gluing together, as this can be tricky for little ones. Show him pictures of totem poles and have him color tubes in different designs. You can fasten them together with clear adhesive tape. A long tube or small ones together can be decorated to make a rain stick. Have him scrunch up paper to stuff inside and pour in dried rice or lentils. He could turn a toilet tube into a person or animal with stickers for eyes and materials such as cotton balls or scraps of material for clothes or fur. Poke two holes near the bottom for him to put his fingers through as legs.

    Little Boxes

    A little pirate or princess should love making his or her own treasure box. Help her glue tissue paper, aluminum foil, wrapping paper and stickers on a shoebox -- alternatively she could use paint. A shoebox can also become a mini garden with some painting and small flowers, grass, leaves and twigs. Test her imagination by giving her a box and telling her to make it into a television. Ask her, "what is on the TV, can you draw it for me?" Small boxes stuck together can make a robot, with the help of plastic bottle tops, aluminum foil and paint. Use double-sided tape or double over clear adhesive tape and let her stick different boxes together to make a tower or sculpture, which she can then paint.

    Pieces of Cardboard

    Cut cardboard shapes out of boxes for your kiddo to stick onto another piece of card. Rectangles could be skyscrapers, circles could be planets, triangles could be roofs and so on. Cut card into shapes that he can turn into animals, characters or monsters. Give him materials such as craft eyes and pompoms or lengths of drinking straws to stick on. When he is done, you can help him attach them to wooden spoons or Popsicle sticks to make puppets.

    Big Box

    If you are fortunate enough to have a big box available, your kiddo can really get stuck in with an art project that he will enjoy playing with. Crayons or paint can turn a box can into a playhouse, fairy castle, spooky cottage, rocket, fire engine or princess carriage. Paper plates can make wheels, wooden spoons become flags and aluminum foil makes shiny metal. You could cut an opening in his box and he could turn it into an ice-cream stand serving toilet roll tubes with scoops of tissue paper in the top.


    About the Author

    Lisa Walker began her journalism career in local newspapers. She later joined Teletext to work on its website and analogue and digital TV services. Walker spent time as a qualified childminder whilst raising her own two children and now enjoys a career writing and editing for various websites, including parent website

    Photo Credits

    • Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images