Kids and cats are on to something - there’s something so fun about cardboard boxes. Empty cardboard boxes are like a blank canvas. They can become spaceships, TVs, even cardboard playhouses with just a little creativity and imagination.

Besides being completely open-ended, cardboard crafts are a great way to repurpose cardboard boxes that would otherwise have gone straight in the trash. And if you like online shopping as much as me, that’s a lot of boxes.

Recycled crafts are a great step towards a zero waste lifestyle. While zero waste can be a lofty goal to accomplish, even the smallest efforts are worthy contributions. If everyone tries just a little harder to reuse and recycle, it can make a big impact on the environment. No one has to be perfect, but we can all strive to do our part the best we can.

I’ve come up with some cardboard toys you can make by upcycling old boxes and using supplies you probably already have at home. The boxes I used to make my cardboard crafts are from The Winkle Crate, my STEM kit for kids, but any cardboard box will work. Shoeboxes are a great size for these projects.

Not only are these cardboard crafts creative and fun, but each comes with video instructions! Click on the project title to see them.

If you have the supplies for these projects, great! If not, see if you can get creative and modify the projects to repurpose things you can find in your house. Here are some ideas for cardboard toys you can make with your kids:

Make an elevator by repurposing a cardboard box.

Elevator

Going up! This cardboard elevator can be used to transport small toys up and down. We’ll learn about pulleys during this fun engineering activity!

Make a parade route STEM project with magnets and repurposing a cardboard box.

Parade Route

Strike up the band! We made a Thanksgiving parade with magnets, but this project can be tweaked to make any sort of parade. Fourth of July, a Disney parade - it’s up to you!

Make a spinner box cardboard toy by repurposing a cardboard box.

Spinner Box

This easy engineering project makes a spinner box, inspired by old-fashioned toys.

Make a miniature playground with a cardboard box and supplies from around the house.

Miniature Playground

Design and build a miniature playground! This mini playground is great for small toys to play on, and you can use any trinkets or things around the house that might have otherwise ended up in the trash.

Make a gear box cardboard toy with a repurposed cardboard box.

Gear Box

Learn all about how gears work with this fun engineering project! We’ll talk about different sizes of gears and where gears can be found in everyday objects.

Have fun making these cardboard crafts! For other activity and project ideas, make sure to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Cardboard toys, STEM projects for kids using repurposed cardboard boxes.