Playing with a piece of cardboard might be something that kids think their parents did "way back in the day' when they were little. But, read on for lots of ideas about using cardboard for playing games and having fun! For indoor or outdoor play, each activity in this list of 30 cardboard activities is entertaining for kids of any age.
1. Table Top Hockey
This first game is a good cardboard game to play with a partner. Choose your color and play homemade tabletop hockey. Using a cardboard sheet and framing it makes this game board simple to make. Set a 5-minute time limit and try to score more points than the other player!
Learn more: Ronyes Tech
2. Go Fish!
Perfect for a rainy day or indoor recess time, this Go Fish game doesn't require any cards. Use a couple of cardboard tubes as fishing rods and add point values to the fish to add a different element of fun to the game!
Learn more: Family Focus Blog
3. Cookie Monster Game
Practice kids' math or counting skills by feeding Cookie Monster! Use a printout of the loveable guy and add it to a sturdy cardboard backing. Make sure to cut a hole for the mouth, because he is hungry! Roll a die and feed him that number of cookies. Or, for older kids, roll the die twice and multiply to get the number of cookies.
Learn more: Rocio Phillips
4. Bird Watching with DIY Binoculars
The first outdoor item on our list is cardboard binoculars. Have some bird-watching experiences and take a hike on a nice day while using your homemade binoculars and making observations. Collect things you find during your hike and put your cool items on display.
Learn more: Almost Makes Perfect
5. Cardboard Easel
Allow your child to paint beautiful landscapes--or simply color blobs on paper! Making this simple triangle design will be half the fun, and it is a great way to upcycle any shipping boxes lying around.
Learn more: Art Bar Blog
6. Animal Sailboat
A cardboard boat that doubles as storage for children's stuffed toys! Decide what size they'll need, and kids can play with their stuffed pets set sail on a pretend ocean, and display them neatly in their room when they're finished.
Learn more: The Craft Train
7. Cardboard Weaving Loom
Older kids will enjoy how much thought they have to put into engineering this cardboard into a useable loom. After they have successfully framed out the loom, they can set about creating colorful designs with yarn!
Learn more: Childhood 101
8. Construct an Alphabet City
Another terrific STEM cardboard activity is building an alphabet city, Young readers will love the hands-on learning with cardboard sheets cut into 3D letters. Reinforce phonemic awareness or build words out of boxes.
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
9. Come Get Your Lemonade!
Another DIY outdoor project for kids is a lemonade stand. Use a couple of cardboard tubes and 1-2 large boxes to design a stand that can be an exercise in economics! Practice math while measuring to build it and when mixing up the lemonade. Add up how many cups you'll need. Decide what to charge each customer. Many life skills can be modeled using the lemonade stand as a learning tool!
Learn more: Party with Unicorns
10. Cardboard Frame Playhouse
A giant cardboard playhouse will bring hours of indoor/outdoor enjoyment for kids. Creating their own space to read and relax for a while will allow them to build up energy for more playtime later. They'll love the idea that they have a place just for themselves, and it's portable so they can set it wherever they want!
Learn more: She Knows
11. Crazy Maze
This cardboard game is a brain challenge! Planning and engineering a maze out of cardboard, then trying to solve it will give a nice sense of accomplishment and keep kids busy for hours. Set a 5-minute time limit and see who makes it through by dodging a marble around the holes.
Learn more: Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
12. What's Inside the Box? Game
A classic cardboard game, What's Inside the Box is entertainment for anyone who comes over to play. Household items can be placed inside and players simply try to guess what's inside without looking. This cardboard activity incorporates science by using the sense of touch and logic.
Learn more: Hands On As We Grow
13. Creeper Beanbag Toss
Kids will go crazy for this cardboard Minecraft character game! Toss the bean bag into the openings to score points. After each player has 5 tries, add up the points to find the winner!
Learn more: Catch My Party
14. Homemade Frisbee Toss Game
For summer fun, nothing is better than a frisbee! Decorate the large ring-style frisbee made of cardboard and you can play a game of catch with a friend. To make things more interesting, you can add a couple of cardboard tubes to the yard and try to toss the rings around them!
Learn more: Fab
15. Cardboard Tube Bowling Game
On rainy days, kids are always wishing they could be more active when they get bored. Make a cute DIY bowling game from duct tape and toilet paper roll tubes! Good for rolling across the floor or for a tabletop game, This creative cardboard bowling set will keep everyone entertained on a rainy day.
Learn more: Projects for Preschoolers
16. Cardboard Puzzle Games
Kids can make their own jigsaw puzzle games out of cardboard and pictures or stickers. Make the pieces with lots of different shapes to fit together, or simply cut them into evenly sized squares to mix up and put them back together again.
Learn more: Kmi X
17. Lawn Scrabble
Use big pieces of cardboard cut into squares and draw bold letters on them to create a homemade game of large print scrabble for the kids to play outside. At stores, sets of letters for outdoor games are $5 or more. Use shipping boxes that are already sitting in the basement and create your own game!
Learn more: Bob Vila
18. Indoor Cardboard Slide
Make an indoor playground that kids will be thrilled to visit! Use a piece of cardboard--or 3-- to make a slide down the stairs! Taking turns so that no one gets injured, kids can slide their way down on a rainy day. The time they spend together sliding down the stairs will be a memorable experience.
Learn more: Tiny Cardboard House
19. Box Road for Toy Cars
Create a model of your neighborhood using this classic cardboard activity. Again, what makes all these games and activities great is that kids of any age can earn from and be challenged by the build. Use other blocks and small toys they have to create scenery, places to drive to, and obstacles on the road.
Learn more: Busy Toddler
20. Make a Tabletop Game
Pick a simple concept like collecting pieces until they are all gone, and draw a game board on a piece of cardboard. Use any small figures you have laying around and Make your own rules! Playing board games as a family is a pastime that has long been enjoyed. Take family game night to a new level when you're a player in your own game!
Learn more: Hands On As We Grow
21. Wall Marble Run
Use up your collection of used paper towel rolls and toilet tissue rolls to create a roller coaster on the wall. Use small bouncy balls or marbles and let them roll down the tube path to the floor. See how far it rolls once it's down and measure the distance for added STEM learning.
Learn more: Little Bins for Little Hands
22. Stacking Tower
Make a stacking game out of cardboard tubes. Cut slot locks into different areas of the rim of different-sized tubes and see if you can build it as tall as your head!
Learn more: Picklebums
23. Sight Words Cardboard Carnival Game
Create a cardboard frame and glue shortened empty rolls onto it to create a ledge. Shoot pompoms with a catapult (a great STEM activity to study levers) and wherever the pompom lands is the word you have to read.
Learn more: Chalk Academy
24. Putt-Putt Golf
Another rainy day game that can get the kids active and spending some pent-up energy. Make your own game of miniature golf! Use up a whole room and place some challenging obstacles in the way. Try to get a lower score than the other players.
Learn more: Happy Mom Hacks
25. Indoor/Outdoor Exercise Dice
After the stuff you ordered online is delivered, close the box back up with colorful tape and write a different movement task on each side. Roll the die and get moving!
Learn more: Happy Mom Hacks
26. Character Cosplay
Another imaginative game where there are no rules. Create your character and act out a story for an audience. Search for some of your favorite tv show or video game characters online and look for cardboard tutorials.
Learn more: The Packaging Company
27. Puppet Theater
This classic cardboard game is going to thrill audiences, too! Recreate a story you just read together by adapting it into a script yourself. Look for inspiration here, or just take turns telling knock-knock jokes.
Learn more: Sparkle Stories
28. Kaleidoscope Craft
The idea of having maker space is becoming more popular. A maker space is a “curiosity space” for kids to build, explore, and invent with a variety of tools and supplies.
Take out the crafting supplies and make a colorful kaleidoscope with the kids out of cardboard tubes.
Learn more: Darcy and Brian
29. Catch the Ball Game
A classic handheld game, Catch the Ball is an easy game that will teach perseverance. To be successful with Catch the Ball, you must trial and error at different speeds and lifts to guide the ball into the hole. A classic handheld game, Catch the Ball is an easy game that will teach perseverance. To be successful with Catch the Ball, you must trial and error at different speeds and lifts to guide the ball into the hole.
Learn more: Crayola
30. Homemade Fidget Spinner
Fidgets have been a fad for the past few years now, and this is the original fidget--the fidget spinner. Did you know it is possible to make your own? Talk about a STEM learning experience! Follow the video for inspiration and spin away!
Learn more: LHack TV