DIY Toys... Secret Mommy Moment on EMM

7 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

Kimberly... is the mother of two gorgeous boys and the wife of a wonderful man. She is fluent in cloth diapering, homemade baby food, baby wearing, natural parenting, having fun, getting messy, playing games, drinking coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. And spreading peace, joy and positivity to the crazy world of SAHM's! We are so excited to add her to our Earth Monkey Mom Family! 



I make toys. I never set out to be a toy-maker. But through a process of parenting evolution, I became one. Every other week we receive a delivery of organic produce and it comes in a cardboard box. I usually found a use for these boxes, but when I didn’t they just got broken down and put in the recycling bin. I think it first happened that my oldest son and I made a robot out of one of the boxes. And then a few months later we made a “car” for him to sit in and watch his favorite movie about some pretty well-known talking vehicles. And then one day I challenged myself to add a bit more skill to my cardboard-box-toy-making adventure and I made an obstacle course for his little toy cars. That project lit the fire (for me AND the boys) and now I make a new toy every week. They are usually (but not always) made of cardboard. It’s a plentifully available material, it’s relatively easy to work with, it’s quite durable (especially when reinforced by my FAVE toy-making item…colored duct tape!) and it recycles when we’re done with it. We have a lot of fun making them and even more fun playing with them! 

This week I made a special toy to share with the Earth Monkey Mom community!!! I call it the Super Fabulous Sporty Activity Center, but you can call it whatever you like. My main “ingredients” in cardboard box toy making are: a cardboard box, a box knife, colored duct tape and a hot glue gun with a good many glue sticks. I usually have a plan in my head of what I want to make, but the toy really takes shape as I start and I usually think of extra things to add or other materials to use as I’m making it.

This toy started with a box that shipped our new oven racks. It’s large and thin – sorta like a big pizza box. I also had an oatmeal container, an empty iodized salt container, and a few paper-towel tubes. I cut my box down the sides so that it would open like a pizza box. (I also shortened the top about 6 inches.) Then I used colored duct tape to cover the raw edges. This makes the toy look nicer and makes it sturdier. I also needed to reinforce the flaps at the back “hinge” with a little hot glue.

I wrapped and covered my oatmeal, salt and paper-towel tubes in different colors of duct tape. I used 2 of the paper-towel tubes to reinforce the box into an open position. I am always VERY liberal with my hot glue. I made a rather large-ish puddle on either side of the bottom of the box and sat the towel tubes in it. I held them at an angle toward the back for a few seconds while the glue set. Then I flipped the box and repeated that on the top.

Continue your liberal use of hot glue as you glue the oatmeal container (oh yeah, I removed the bottom with my box knife) to the “backboard” area of the box. More liberal hot glue as you make big puddles in the bottom to set your salt container and tube. These two items are for the “ring toss” part of your game board. (I made tossing rings with loops of colored duct tape.) The oatmeal container is for shooting baskets, as in basketball. I added an orange duct tape square above the oatmeal “basket” for looks (and aiming purposes, of course!) The excessive use of hot glue is quite key to making cardboard box toys. When I’ve tried to be stingy with the glue the toys come apart more easily and don’t last as long. When they are solidly adhered with puddles of glue they last WEEKS! 

I made duct tape squares on the bottom of the box for a bean-bag-toss area and was planning to make some homemade bean bags to use there. If you chose to use paint instead, you could make regular round “target” looking spots. Before I even got the toy done, my 3 yr. old was using plastic bottle caps from our craft cupboard to toss onto the #’s. He kept tossing them (kind of like skipping rocks…) and if they landed on a square he’d say, “OOohh! I got a number! I don’t know what it is, but I got a number!” I originally thought to number the “scores” 5, 10, 15, 20, etc., but when he started saying that it made me think this could be an opportunity for him to learn what the little number’s LOOK like. (He knows how to count to 5, but doesn’t recognize them in printed form…) So I wrote out #’s 1 through 5 and after only a half hour or so of playing and going over and over the numbers he recognized number 3! (Cheap, easy AND EDUCATIONAL! Win-win!)

The boys using the bottle caps made me think of making some type of small baskets on the “backboard” that they could try tossing the caps into AND that would hold the caps for storage when not in use. So I grabbed a couple of clean, empty yogurt containers, duct taped the outside for looks, then glued them in place. 

My philosophy on toys like this is to go crazy! And if, after they’ve played with it a few hours or a few days, you think of something fun to add? ADD IT! That’s what I do. One of the things I like best about cardboard box toys is that if it gets broken, I either fix it or throw it in the recycle! No more fretting over the $30 that was spent and now the toy is a big pile of plastic trash…


So that’s it, Earth Monkey Moms! Go forth and make cardboard toys for your monkeys! 

Check out Kimberly's Secret Mommy Blog at and "like" her on facebook HERE!


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