3 Collaborative Cardboard Art Projects for Toddlers

My two year old daughter loves creating. Luckily, I’m of the philosophy that children need to have access to many different types of art supplies from a young age. Because of this, I keep a wide range of items that will engage and spark curiosity in my daughter.

Our cupboards are filled to the brim; I collect tree branches on walks, large leaves, bits of basil that fall off the plant outside, lavender, magazines, styrofoam trays for mixing paint, and lots and lots of cardboard.

By keeping these materials handy, I can throw together a collaborative or independent art activity in a flash, and keep my daughter fully immersed in the beautiful process of creating!

Check out these 3 collaborative art projects we made from reused cardboard:

Box Collages

Materials: small sticks, leaves, rubber bands, a tray to hold paint, tempera or acrylic paint, glue, and a variety of materials such as wrapping paper, magazines, ribbon, gems, stickers, petals, etc.

  • Create paint brushes using the small sticks, leaves, and rubber bands.
  • Paint the large box using tempera or acrylic paints (or see Edible Tempera Paints.)
  • Discuss how the naturally made brush is a much different experience than a plastic brush. You can keep a regular paint brush on hand for your child to explore the difference. Ask your child to think about how the brush feels on their hand and the size/shape of the brush strokes.
  • Let the box dry overnight.
  • Bring a variety of materials outside. Glue, paint, organize, and touch the materials. The sky’s the limit on this one!

My daughter has a touch of SPD (hypersensitive) so the messier the activity the better! 


Colors, Colors, Everywhere!

Materials: a long piece of cardboard, tempera or acrylic paints, paint brushes, toys to sort, large sheet (optional) large t-shirt for your toddler to wear (optional)

  • Reuse a long piece of cardboard by creating a color-sort game. We wanted to increase opportunities for our daughter to imitate/initiate words and sentences during play, and describing toys using colors is a great way to do this.
  • Mix tempera or acrylic colors together (or Edible Tempera Paints) and prepare to get messy. Place an old sheet underneath you as you paint.
  • Allow the cardboard to dry, and then encourage your child to sort colors using toys and objects in your home. Label the items (e.g. say, “I chose a blue block. Where should I put the blue block?”) and encourage your child to help you figure out which color to place your toy/object on. 
  • This can be modified to meet the needs of your child including using less color choices, painting shapes on the cardboard, or using numbers along with the colors so your child has to find a certain number of objects in a particular color (3 purple toys.)


Add-on Mural 

Materials: large piece of cardboard, gemstones, acrylic or tempera paint, container for paints (old beer tops), paper, ribbons, bits of wrapping paper, liquid glue, purple glue stick, dot paints, cut out shapes, foil, different sized paint brushes, and pretty much anything else your heart desires

  • Set up a space in your kitchen our outside where your child can get messy.
  • Place the cardboard on the ground or prop it up on a wall, depending on your child’s needs.
  • Help your child paint the mural, using various sized paint brushes & tempera or acrylic paint (Edible Tempera Paints are also an option for kids that put things in their mouth.)
  • Add shapes, lines, and many colors to the mural.
  • Experiment with black paint & large bursts of color to show your child contrasts.


Each of these activities can be modified to support children who put everything in their mouth, as well as children who are unable to walk. For example, instead of using small items (e.g. gems), replace with larger, chunkier objects (pine cones, large pieces of construction paper or felt, etc.)  Be sure to check out these Edible Tempera Paints  &  Edible Finger Paint for some safe paint ideas, too.

What are some of your favorite collaborative art projects to do with your toddler? How would you make these activities more inclusive?

With much heart,





  1. Mari says:

    Love all your ideas April. It sounds like the two of you are having a great time. Using some of the ideas with my 2 chargers.

    Liked by 1 person

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