Make a cardboard castle from a recycled cardboard box!
This is a fun and easy kids craft idea which becomes a DIY toy to inspire imaginative play.
This recycled cardboard castle is a craft project I made together with my daughter back when she was a princess-obsessed pre schooler. I’ve been intending to update this tutorial for years but have never quite got around to it.
Finally, here it is!
There’s a bit of an anti-princess and fairy tale movement happening around the world. The sentiment is that the stories, themes and characters are gender biased and princesses are not the best role models to inspire girls. These arguments sound very reasonable but just try telling that to a pink-loving 4 year old who will wear princess costumes or nothing!
Personally, I think we should go along with their interests and whatever fires up their imaginations – and fairy tales do just that. You can always balance out the girly stuff with train, helicopter, and dinosaur crafts.
Sadly, the princess and fairy tale phase is over all too quickly and they’ll soon be begging to play Minecraft 24-7, wanting to wear the world’s shortest shorts and back-talking like a teenager.
Princess-fatigued parents, enjoy it while it lasts!
As a preschooler, my daughter would spend hours engaged in imaginary play and this castle would often be the centre of her games. The plastic ponies would rule the kingdom filled with her miniature toys.
We kept it for years until it was literally too battered and well-loved to keep any longer. Plus, she was no longer interested in princesses and fairy tales – sob!
How to make a cardboard castle
You will need:
- A cardboard box (a wine box is perfect – you can usually pick them up for free from any bottle shop without buying wine if it’s not your thing)
- 4 paper towel rolls
- Lead pencil
- Acrylic paint
- Optional plastic sticker gems
- Optional sparkle foam (you could use coloured card stock instead)
Sketch the windows and door onto the front of the box in the spaces you wish them to be.
An adult needs to do the cutting part. Use a serrated kitchen knife or a utility knife to cut out the windows and door, leaving the bottom of the door attached to the box so it opens like a drawbridge.
Hold one of the paper rolls above a corner and use your lead pencil to lightly mark where it meets the box edges. Cut two slits in these spots which are around 2mm wide (or as wide as your box), and around 15mm long. Cut a piece off the space between these to make the roll easier to slide onto your box corner.
Slide the roll onto the box corner, and repeat with the other 3 paper towel rolls.
Cut a small square from cardboard and use this to trace around along the edges of your box to make the turrets. Space the turrets with one square between each square you cut out to make them look even.
The base of your castle is finished, now it’s time to decorate.
Painting is a good job for the kids. Let them choose the colour and give them a sponge roller and some acrylic paint so they can get to work.
My daughter chose pink for the outside and green for the inside for her castle.
When she was tired of painting and hadn’t finished the job I finished it off for her.
Paint the paper roll towers the same colour as your castle and wait for it all to dry.
To finish it off we added sparkle foam edges to the top and plastic gems around the windows (at my daughters request). We also made a sparkle foam door. These steps are optional.
Miss 4 was soooo happy with the way her castle turned out. It got tons of use in imaginary games and looked cute decorating her room!
Next week I’ll be sharing a sea monster mask we made also using a wine box, so stay tuned.
More DIY toys you can make from recyclables
- Make a monster sight word eater to gobble up all those sight words
- These cardboard shoe lacing cards are great to practice bow-tying skills
- Paper rolls make great cardboard roll shakers
- Make a giant dice from recycled cardboard
- Our mini lid banjos are so cute!