Cardboard Creations

Hi Friends,

One of my favorite craft supplies is cardboard. It is so convenient, versatile, and – thanks to the increase in online orders – FREE! Why waste free crafting supplies when we can Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.?! Here are a few examples of teacher gifts I’ve created this week using cardboard. 

Gift Tags 

These fun little apple gift tags will be used for teacher gifts. I cut out the apple, leaf, and stem shapes from the side of a cardboard shipping box. I pulled off one layer of the cardboard to expose the ripple edge on the leaf and stem. I like the difference of texture between them and the apple body. I painted the apple and leaf. The stem didn’t need painting, as it was the perfect shade of brown as is. I added a length of cotton to allow me to tie it to packaging when done. I layered the elements and secured them with hot glue. This project took me about 15 minutes to complete for all four tags. 

Ice Cream Cones

A fun and easy prop for dynamic play, these ice cream cones worked up quickly! I cut out the ice cream and waffle cones separately. I used the paint I had on hand to create the different flavors with different colors of paint. Adding colorful marks creates sprinkles and thicker strokes creates chunks of chocolate. A thin line of black paint created the waffle cone texture. Once dry, I layered the ice cream scoops over the waffle cone and secured it with hot glue. 

I plan to give these to a kindergarten teacher friend who can use them in her classroom to encourage play and creativity. They pair well with children’s stories that include ice cream and desserts. Dressing up cardboard scraps into fun props is an inexpensive and easy way to add elements to any dynamic playstation. 

Storybox Station 

Using several scraps of cardboard, I created this fun cottage with a hinged lid. The roof was created using several triangle shapes glued together. I created roof shingles by first peeling off a layer of cardboard to reveal the wavy center. I then cut it into small rectangles, which I secured in rows with hot glue. This step was the most time consuming part of the entire project, taking about an hour to complete. 

To add some texture to the box, I used some paper mache I had left over from another project. Looking back, I don’t think this step added much benefit to the final cottage’s look. It is not a step I would repeat if I do this project again. 

After the roof was complete, I moved on to decorating the cottage. I painted the entire box a soft beige tone, then used a section of sponge to add the brick pattern. The door was painted with a brown tone, and I used a sharpie to draw on lines to create a wood panel effect. I added a bit of grey, but quickly decided it was a step I would skip if I repeated this project. 

Along with the cottage, I created several storybook characters for students to interact. They can recreate fairy tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Red Riding Hood, and Three Little Pigs – or mix and match characters to create their own stories! Thanks to the hinged top, all characters can be stored in the cottage until they are ready for their next adventure. 

Tips for cutting cardboard:

1. Design with simple shapes

When sketching out your design, use simple shapes. For many of the characters, I started with a circle for the face. I then added a few extra lines to extend hair or add ears.

2. Use a sharp blade

Since I am working with smaller sized characters, I used a small utility knife or X-acto knife. Using a sharp blade will not only keep your edge smooth, but also reduce hand and arm strain as you cut through dense cardboard. Since my knife was sharp, I wanted to avoid carving my table as well. You can see that I placed a small embroidery hoop under my work to lift it off the table. Even with a sharp blade, you may need to pass over your design several times to cut through all layers of your cardboard.

3. Accept that it won’t be perfect

If you are looking for perfection, this craft is not going to be a good fit for you. Every cardboard craft I have created has come out clearly looking handmade and “folksy.” I prefer this because I find the imperfect look charming. However personal tastes differ, and if you prefer a more polished look you will either need to add in several more steps to clean up and smooth your rough edges or pick a different craft.

This article is an original by Christy Hagan of the blog Christy Makes Friends. Please do not steal images or content as your own. If you’d like to share this article, you may provide a link to this post, but please do not reprint it on your website.

Disclaimer- This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking these links, you help support me and my business at no cost to you. All opinions are my own.

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