Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kids and Cardboard: Cheap and Easy Fun!

Seven years ago today we moved into this house.
My son and I knew no one and were bored...very bored.
I used our moving boxes to make houses, dump trucks, and rocket ships.
The rocket ship actually survived for 3 years!
Image credit: bortn66 / 123RF Stock Photo 

I had forgotten all about this...
Until my memory was jogged when I was at the Maker Faire with Delta Faucet. We came across the Berkeley Institute of Design's Crowd-Powered Bridge Design and Research Project. I was reminded of the rockets ship and thought this would make a fun summer activity for my kids and their friends.

The exhibit at the Maker Faire

Fast forward to today...we had some friends over to celebrate my son's birthday
and I had tons of cardboard...
and thought, let's give this a shot!

We had 2 groups of kids:
older kids ranging from 9-11 years old and
younger kids ranging from 5 to 8 year old.

At first they seemed hesitant, but ready to give it a go.
I showed them the photo I took at the Maker Faire
and the older kids went with it-
taping, ripping, and building with cardboard for a couple of hours.

The younger kids needed a bit of help, but also got in on the action...
first they drew some picture to decorate it -
that was more important to the little ones.

Here is how to do it and what you need
to make your own bridge/ramp/contraption!

Cardboard: boxes, shoe boxes, poster board, craft paper - whatever you have around! I picked up a few rolls of kraft/shipping paper at the dollar store just in case.

Tape: No need to get high quality tape...I bought the $1 tape and clear packing tape from the dollar store too. I figured the cheaper tape was fine, since I do not plan on keeping these forever. (just FYI - it has a strong scent so use in a ventilated area)

Scissors (optional)


  1. Gather the kids.
  2. Suggested they collaborate first and draw a picture so each kid could visualize the end goal. I think this helps the kids combine forces more easily.
  3. Explain to them they are to work together to create a bridge or tower or whatever you want using only the cardboard and tape. At the Maker Faire the goal was to get a small toy car to roll over the bridge and for it to be high enough for a toy cardboard boat to go under the bridge. Our goal was that Jules could ride her trike under it.
  4. Give them each a roll of tape.
  5. Then turn them loose....it took a bit for them to start clicking...but then they did and worked together to build this bridge (or ramp).

Well, my visions of a grand bridge did not quite materialize.
The kids bridge looked like a ramp.

 They proceeded to launch the empty rolls of tape and Hot Wheels cars and Zoobles off of it. The Trike did fit under it...but most importantly, they had fun in the sun for hours and worked together to get a finished project.

The little kids also created a smaller version of a "bridge"
(or something!) and enjoyed it too.

Moral of the story...
everyday recyclables and things laying around the house and provide hours of fun and teach the kiddos a little something this summer!

The kids actually asked when they can do this again...
now, that is a winner idea in my book!

Do you have any simple, cheap, and easy idea for summer?



  1. This looks like a fun idea.

    Mrs. Delightful

  2. This is funny because this past weekend my kids and their friends were building with all the boxes we had laying around. It was wonderful to see their creativity.

  3. This is such a fun idea, Holly! It looks like they had a blast. And if it keeps them busy it is an A+ in my book. ;)

  4. My kids always loved it when we bought an appliance or something that came in a huge box...they would spend days in their little cardboard worlds. I love that you had the kids do something creative and cheap...not everything has to be "plugged in" and expensive!

  5. What a fun idea! Anything to keep those kiddos busy over the summer, right? Thanks for sharing! :)

  6. Anonymous7:11 PM

    I love cardboard craft...kids can really get creative with it. I remember as a kid spending hours playing in carboard boxes. We made Forts and Castles with it. So fun. :)

    The Things We Find Inside


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