How to make animals out of cardboard boxes

Updated July 06, 2018

Cardboard boxes are more than a container. Give a child a single box and it becomes everything from a go-kart or spaceship to a doll cradle or a pet. Combine empty salt, tea, oatmeal, and cereal boxes with packng boxes and create your own menagerie. Make cherished memories with the time spent creating together.

Packing box animals

Stand a 60 cm by 45 cm (24 inch by 18 inch) packing box on one short end. Apply instant adhesive to one side of a 30 cm (12 inch) box and centre it on top of the larger box. Take care not to get it on your fingers and have a bottle of acetone-based nail polish remover and some cotton balls within hand's reach in case you do.

Apply instant adhesive to the rim of a paper cup and attach it to one side of the small box to make a bear's muzzle. Cut a pair of round-topped ears about 7.5 cm (3 inches) wide at the base. Glue them to each side of your bear's head.

Cut four sections of cardboard carpet roll 25 to 45 cm (10 to 18 inches) long to make arms and legs. Coat one end with instant adhesive and attach arms to the right and left sides of the larger box. Attach the legs to the front of the large box, facing the same direction as the bear's head and muzzle.

Lay a dust sheet under the bear and paint the entire thing brown using whatever kind of paint you have available. Unless your animals are going to be left outside, tempera, finger paint, acrylics, and even house paint are all acceptable. Allow the paint to dry overnight.

Add a black dot of paint on the end of the muzzle for a nose. Draw eyes on each side of the muzzle with black paint.

To make a cat or rabbit instead, substitute a sundae cup for the paper cup to make the muzzle. Cut arched, somewhat triangular ears for a cat, or long, daisy-petal-shaped ears for a rabbit. Paint the inside of each ear pink.

Paint your cat or rabbit as desired, using a single colour or patches, dots, or stripes of multiple colours.

Smaller box animals

Turn an oatmeal box on its side to make your pig's body. Cut 5 cm (2 inch) sections of paper towel or toilet paper tube to make four legs. Crease short pieces of wide masking tape into the space between each paper-towel-tube leg and the oatmeal box body to secure the legs.

Coat one end of a salt box with instant adhesive. Attach it to one end of the oatmeal box to make your pig's head.

Wind a pink pipe cleaner around a pencil or your own finger to make a curly tail. Attach it to the hind end of your pig's body.

Paint the entire pig pink and allow the paint to dry overnight.

Add eyes to the head and draw a mouth, using black paint or black marker.


Try other combinations of boxes and found objects to create your own animals. Newspaper strips dipped in thinned white glue will attach boxes and parts to each other instead of using instant adhesive or masking tape.

Things You'll Need

  • Moving boxes
  • Instant adhesive
  • Acetone-based nail varnish remover
  • Cotton balls
  • Cardboard carpet tube
  • Paper cups
  • Sundae cups
  • Dust sheet
  • Yellow, brown, black, white, red, and orange paint
  • 5 cm to 10 cm (2 inch to 4 inch) paintbrushes
  • Detail brushes
  • Salt, oatmeal, and cereal boxes
  • Tea, cocoa, and snack boxes
  • Gift wrap, paper towel, and toilet paper tubes
  • Wide masking tape
  • Pipe cleaners
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About the Author

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.