Silent Sunday: Cardboard Box = a Great Toy

 

Cardboard box fun

More links to cardboard creations we’ve made:

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Earth Day Craft: Recycled Robot

I saw this pin on Pinterest and thought that making a robot out of recycled items we had around the house would be a fun family project.

Here’s what we used for our robot:

  • 8 tin cans
  • 1 large kiwi plastic container
  • 1 shoe box – bottom and lid
  • 1 paper towel roll, cut in half
  • 2 circle magnets
  • 1 magnetic strip
  • Alphabet magnets
  • 1 egg carton
  • 4 screws
  • Plastic stuffing
  • Tape

It was really interesting helping the kids and Daddy O. figure out how to best build our robot.  I am a fan of excessive taping of any homemade project, but we were having problems with the cans staying in place. Daddy O. decided to drill holes into the bottoms of the cans to screw them together vertically. This also helped attach the head, body and feet of the robot, so it was very stable. The kids helped with taping the cardboard tube arms on. Big sister invented the control panel, using the lid of the box and part of an egg carton.

Here’s our finished product in all its glory!

Here's our robot and "control panel"

Here’s our robot and egg shell carton “control panel” in the lid of the shoebox

How I would change it up for next time – The flat magnets don’t stick terribly well to the round cans, and we were forced to spell words vertically vs. horizontally.  I would flip the box next time and perhaps have a bigger tin can torso, so we could do more with the magnets we have.

All in all this was a fun, family activity that is easy and eco-friendly.  Happy Earth Day!

Cardboard Halloween Costume FAIL

Happy October everyone!  I am still sort of wondering where the month of September went, but oh yeah – my 2 year old’s birthday, Oktoberfest beer, and a great picnic at a beer garden, not to mention all the fun stuff that we tried to cram in that we didn’t do all summer long.

During September, I became annoyed with the number of diaper boxes in my house that hadn’t yet made it to our recycling bin.  AND I was inspired from reading a Thomas the Tank Engine Halloween book that had a train costume in it.  AND I made a cardboard train for my daughter’s 3rd birthday, so shouldn’t my son have a train for his birthday too?  Wouldn’t it be awesome if that train could be made in September and still be around for trick-or-treating six weeks later?  AND aren’t trains so easy to make out of boxes?

As you can see, I had MANY reasons for thinking that a cardboard train costume would be a good idea.  Probably the MOST important one of all was the idea of making a large Halloween costume that could fit my kids, who would inevitably need to wear winter coats in order to trick-or-treat comfortably in Wisconsin. (Sigh…it never fails to be cold for Halloween).  Gone are all those dresses and thin costumes – we need layers people!

So I started making the “greatest” train costume ever with a diaper box and two other boxes cobbled together with a lot of tape.

cardboard train in the early design phase

phase 1 diaper box train

I covered it with cut up grocery bags to give it a cleaner look.

phase 2 covered diaper box with brown grocery bags

covered in brown grocery bags – phase 2 cardboard box train

Finally, I browsed through my scrapbook paper stash and found some green paper – my son’s favorite color to jazz up the engine.  I used spray adhesive to make this part easy.

When finished, it came time for the ultimate test: would my kids wear it?

My son’s response – no way!  I could barely get it over his head.

My daughter’s response – for about 5 minutes!  It was a little too back-heavy, to which my engineer husband said, “Yeah, you should really balance it a little better.”  I gave him a nasty look, encouraging him to give it a go then.  He has not taken me up on this challenge to date.

Ultimately, this is a costume built for two, as modeled by my daughter and her cousin at the birthday party.  Aren’t they adorable?!  My dad also suggested that you place a bowl of candy in the opening on top of the train, and have the child walk in the driver’s seat.  I also tried putting it over our wagon, but it didn’t fit. That could be cute, but as it is right now, it is a cardboard Halloween Costume FAIL.  Bummer.

Decorated with green and gray paper final cardboard train costume

Final – cardboard train costume for two!

Do you have any cold weather or cardboard Halloween costume suggestions?  What are your kids dressing up as?

Here are some really cute ideas in the related articles:

Another Cardboard Creation: Cardboard Little Bears’ Home

As a way to beat the winter blues indoors, and up-cycle at least one diaper box into something fun, I created a little house for my daughter’s stuffed animals.  She is obsessed with animals, mostly from watching Dora and Diego shows, so this box became a perfect little home.

Instructions

1. Use a utility knife or box cutter to cut a door and a few windows.

2. Tape the roof together using additional cardboard pieces (if necessary). Clear packing tape or duct tape seem to work well.

3. To cover the house, cut apart a large brown paper bag and fit to size.  I used the bottom of the bag to create the roof’s shingles.

4. Use markers or crayons to decorate.

This was a really easy project that probably took less than 45 minutes to do.  Have fun!

cardboard house

Little bears’ cardboard home

Little bears hideout - side view

Little bears’ home – side view

Other Successful Cardboard Projects

Cardboard Kitchen

Cardboard Choo Choo Train

Cardboard Choo Choo Train’s Debut

As I mentioned in my cardboard kitchen post, I had A LOT of boxes at my disposal to get creative and make another toy for my kiddos.  It’s crazy how many diaper boxes we have gone through – so crazy that I don’t like to think about it!  When my daughter said she wanted an engine birthday party, I knew I had the perfect idea to use up some of our boxes: a cardboard choo choo train!

Cardboard choo choo

cardboard choo choo side view

I didn’t really use a pattern, though I had these tips in mind while getting started.  Basically, I had one long box that spanned the entire length of the train engine, and cut up boxes to build up the engine compartment, using A LOT of duct tape to secure everything in place.  I scored and cut another box to make the round portion and made the funnel out of a cereal box. I found some old ribbon spools to make the circle buffers in front.  Everything was painted in a light pink latex paint (left in our basement by the previous owner).  The stripes and any other colored area are simply construction paper affixed with a spray adhesive.  I also made “passenger cars” – one brown and one purple – by putting together two diaper boxes.  All in all the cardboard choo choo was a BIG HIT at the party!

Birthday girl driving her train

We also had an “engine” birthday cake, just as I ordered via phone from our local bakery. To our surprise, they put a red fire engine on it instead of a train engine.  Our birthday girl didn’t seem to mind, plus the cake was delicious!

Mama O and Family with "Engine" cake

For thank you notes, I came up with a train outline card:

choo choo thank you

The text inside said, “That’s train for Thank you!”  I certainly enjoy taking time to create something fun and special in honor of my children’s birthdays.  We really had a wonderful time celebrating with our family.

I came across this cool article yesterday about a preschool classroom that ditched its toys for boxes:

Classroom Toys Replaced with Cardboard Boxes