Freestyle Cardboard Painting Turned Castle (Saves the Day)

OK, I’ve got a crying, hungry baby in one arm and an antsy preschooler pulling on the other. As a quick fix, I grab a cardboard box from the garage, a handful of paint jars and paint brushes. I put it all outside on the deck, setting my almost 5 year-old son loose, unsupervised. I mention as I’m walking back inside that he has enough paint brushes so he can keep his colors separate if he wants. Ha!
With a now full and happy baby in a carrier and a camera in my hand, I check in on H’s creative process. The paint jars are almost empty, and paint is on just about everything  – except the paintbrushes.
H smears paint all over his hands and the cardboard. It’s a full body experience. He’s having a blast, and so I leave him to it a bit longer.
When I come back again, the paint is spent and the cardboard is almost fully coated. H poses next to his artwork, looking like a renegade graffiti “arteest”. His paint-covered hands found their way onto the surrounding wall. Thank you washable paints!

We ponder what to make with his colorful cardboard. Originally, I was taking cues from a Pinterest pin on cardboard abstract art, thinking we’d do something similar as a way to play with shapes. But H says he wants a castle. Really? A castle?

Voilà! Obviously, I’ve never made a castle before, and I’m keeping it simple. But even so it’s a hit for imaginative play so far, and keeps my son busy for the rest of the afternoon. Thank you cardboard.

How has good ‘ol cardboard kept your tykes busy and productive lately?

Jami blogs at

3 Replies to “Freestyle Cardboard Painting Turned Castle (Saves the Day)”

  1. I love it! Having a baby and an active young child can be overwhelming for some parents. You want to tend to the need of the infant as well as stimulate your child. This was a great activity to suggest because it allowed your child to be actively creative, while keeping him occupied with something that he showed interest in. I also appreciated the fact that you did not try to dictate how he should have painted. Sometimes, parents look at projects like this as more of a chore because of the clean up afterwards. But they sometimes do not realize that putting so many structure and rules to an activity could take away from the creativity, individuality and stimulation from the child. Let your child express themselves. Good thinking on the washable paint : )

    1. Nice to hear from you Heather! You’re so right. The coolest part of this project was how my son got into the process. It really didn’t matter what we made afterwards. The clean up was a cinch too. Once the cardboard was dry, we brought it in, chunked the paint containers, and washed the hardly used brushes. The next day it rained for two days, cleaning up the spurious paint on the wall!

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