Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to make a kid's kitchen out of cardboard boxes

I'm of the firm belief that kids do not need expensive toys in order to have fun or learn.

The vast majority of Tricky's toys are second hand - they've been passed down from friends, found for a bargain price at an op shop or baby market, or picked up from the side of the road at bulk rubbish collection. Yes, I find my child's toys on the side of the road, call child services.

We do it partly to reduce the amount of new plastic that comes in to our house (and therefore the tonnes of non recyclable plastic shrink wrap packaging and twistie ties that end up in landfill), to keep our costs low on our single income budget and to encourage Tricky's imagination.

So last week, with that in mind, I decided to get my craft on and channel the guys on Play School and get creative with some boxes, some tape and a Sharpie. Just call me Noni Hazelhurst.


Grab any boxes you have, stick them together and get drawing - it's that easy. I used some bowls to get the shape of the hotplates, a ruler for the straight lines and a sandwich to distract Tricky while I did it. There's no right or wrong and it doesn't have to be perfect - I've left 'bench space' for him to use but you could draw in a sink. If you do it indoors make sure it's in a well ventilated area or you'll end up with a massive Sharpie induced headache after colouring in the hot plates!

I must say, I'm kinda happy with how it turned out. Actually who am I kidding? I freakin' love it and when people come over now I drag them towards it singing "Come look at the kitchen I made for Tricky!!!"

Kids don't need the most expensive, realistic looking toys with sound effects... how are they ever meant to develop their imaginations if we do it all for them? Plus how many times have you given your child a toy and they've played with it for a few minutes then turned the box it came in into a car, an aeroplane, a cave or a house?

Tricky thinks it rocks and has been cooking for me ever since using some plastic fruit and veg, a chopping board, 'knife' and a little saucepan. Each time he runs to his cardboard kitchen and does the same, then holds up his 'dish' sniffs it and declares "Mmm yum!". I melt every time!

Go away, Mama, I'm cooking you a special dinner
Do you have second hand or home made toys for your kids?


  1. NotanottinghillmumMarch 22, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    I think this is really charming - reminded me of my childhood/ playschool - I'm not sure exactly but it's a great idea

  2. Looks great! You've inspired me. And kah-yewt pics - thanks for sharing.

  3. We regularly make a cubby house out of blankets and pillows and "camp out" on the bed - does that count?

    I think it's a great idea to make your own toys - the toys now have such specific uses that imagination is stunted because there's no room for the toys to be anything else. 

  4. Look at you! Crafty Mamma. Love it. My kids do not really play with toys.  They are bike and scooter dudes. I like this as it tires them out. x

  5. The brilliant thing about young children is that anything different is exciting! Be it a fancy bells and whistle type toy, or a cardboard tube they can use as a trumpet! I'm forever giving my 17 month daughter 'recycling'. She loves egg cartons, tissue boxes, empty wipes containers, old formula tins the list goes on. I love watching how she uses them, where her imagination takes her! I love this kitchen, am off to dig out some old boxes... :) Thanks for sharing!

  6. I still keep all big boxes for the Little Un even though she's 11. She makes her own creations now - one of her favourites used to be a cardboard box with shoulder straps attached and the flaps as wings so she could make herself into an aeroplane.

    Good job on the kitchen!

  7. Can you stop being so awesome now. You're putting the rest of us to shame!
    (We rarely buy Greenie anything seeing as Bluey was a spoilt rotten child, by so so many people, not really Mr Black and myself [*cough* I'd rather spoil myself thanks *cough*] and we encourage our kids to look after their stuff so every time I pull something out of our massive toy box it's like a brand new toy. Yay!)

  8. Love it!  The hotplates are almost as adorable as the boy

    Ask Moo about the shit I used to make them out of cardboard.  I was crazy.  I even made a five foot tall house with kitchen and beds.

    BTW he needs a sink.  Boy needs to learn to wash the dishes x

  9. I think Noni would be very impressed with your fake oven making skills. It looks totally awesome! Yesterday we made a 'magic box' - my crafting skills are crap but you get what you pay for...

  10. I do secondhand all the time.  Kids outgrow toys, clothes, everything so fast it just makes sense to do it that way.

  11. Too cute!!! We made a toy kitchen from three little cupboards/bedside tables from Salvos, but when we move and refurnish from Ikea, I think I'll just have to use the boxes to make a new one!!

  12. How adorable my little boy would love this

  13. When I was a child, I was more amused with the wrapping paper or the bubble wrap than the expensive toy itself! And I used to love my toys from St Vinnies. When I adopt a child of my own I would love to make their toys! I just might start with the kitchen! This is very cool, I would have LOVED this as a child!

  14. Crap. I should've read this first before buying the plastic stuff.

  15. I love the cardboard box kitchen idea, and found a site with instructions to take it even a little bit further, with knobs that turn and an oven that opens.
    you can see my kitchen here


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