How to Make Cardboard Animals

These cardboard animals are easy to make using a letter of the alphabet as your guide. Add interest to small world play with cardboard animals you and the kids can make together.

Cardboard animals kids craft and small world activity

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Kids love using their imaginations. This often leads to creative play with little prompting.

Pretend play doesn't need a lot of props or elaborate costumes to interest kids and spark their imaginations.  The play can include everything from dressing up in a bath-towel cape and glittering crown to live in a cardboard box castle, to making a mailbox and mailbag for some awesome post office play.

Kids can engage in pretend play in other interesting ways with small world play

Small world play is pretend play using materials and characters on a small scale. It provides exciting opportunities to engage fine motor skills along with language skills in creative play. 

Related: Small world play with a cardboard box

Cardboard animals for small world play

Cardboard animals provide lots of opportunities for fun pretend play with preschoolers. These animals are easy to make with recycled cardboard. 

I provide a basic template in this post that can easily be altered to make a variety of animals. Make the pattern larger or smaller, and add accessories and details to help create different animals.

This activity requires few materials - you'll need some cardboard and scissors, and whatever basic craft supplies you have on hand to complete the characters.



How to make cardboard animals


Cardboard animals easy to make for small world play


The basic steps are shown in the photo collage above. 

The letter H is the guide for making the body of the animal.

Bend the sides of a piece of cardboard, leaving a middle portion flat for the top of the body.

Lay the cardboard flat on the table. Cut out sections on either side of the fold lines to form the legs, staying below the crease lines.



Cardboard animals kids craft for pretend play


Instructions for making a horse

1. Make a body for the horse with a piece of cardboard 3 x 5 in. (7.5 x 12.5 cm).

2. Cut out a piece of the body on either side to form the legs. The legs created in the photo measure .5 x 1.5 in. (1.25 x 4 cm).

3. Cut out a head from cardboard.

4. Snip partway into the neck and then partway into the top portion of the body. Slide the head into the body to join them together.


Small world play with homemade cardboard animals

5. Fray the end of a piece of burlap until you have a desirable length for the tail. Remove most of the portion above the frayed edge. Roll up like a tube. Tape to the underside of the animal to form the tail.


Make cardboard animals for preschool small world pretend play


6. Glue a few strands of burlap fringe to the head for a mane.

7. Glue craft eyes to the head.

Cardboard animals kids craft painting activity


There are so many possibilities for finishing your animal. I like the simplicity of the natural horse but the painted one is very cute too! 

I didn't have any brown paint so I added a bit of black paint to a nearly-empty bottle of orange paint, gave the bottle a shake, and voila! - this pretty shade of brown.


Cardboard horse preschool craft and activity


The yellow embroidery thread is perfect for a brightly colored mane and tail.


Cardboard horse small world play preschool craft


 Visit our Pretend Play on Pinterest.


 Find this craft shared with other recycle crafts.

The Mama Workshop 50 Earth Day Crafts


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