Cardboard Animals for Small World Play

Kids love using their imaginations, whether dressing up in a cape and glittering crown, or creating a shoe box barn for small world play. Add interest to small world play with cardboard animals you and the kids can make together.  These cardboard animals are easy to make using a letter of the alphabet as your guide!

Cardboard animals - Preschool Toolkit

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Small world play provides exciting opportunities to engage language, fine motor, and creative skills. 

These cardboard animals are fun to make with little cost. 

Once you cut out the basic pattern, you can add details to create a variety of animals.


How to make cardboard animals


Cardboard animals steps collage

The letter H is the secret to making cardboard animals for small world play.



Follow the three simple steps shown in the photo collage above. 

You can adjust the length and width for any animal you want to make.


Cardboard animals for small world play - Preschool Toolkit


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 cut-out legs in the photo measure .5 x 1.5 in. (1.25 x 4 cm).

3. Snip partway into the neck and the body. Slide the head into the body to join them together.


Cardboard animals for small world play - Preschool Toolkit

4. Fray the end of a piece of burlap. Cut a small piece, enough to roll up like a tube, to tape to the underside of the animal for the tail.


Cardboard animals for small world play - Preschool Toolkit


6. Add a bit of burlap fringe to the head for a mane.

7. Glue craft eyes to the head.

Cardboard animals for small world play - Preschool Toolkit


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.

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


Now I will try my hand at making a fence or corral. What props would you add to your small world play?

 Visit our Pretend Play Pinterest board.

Provide more opportunities for open-ended play with blocks, paint, or a shoe box.


Find this craft shared on The Mama Workshop 50 Earth Day Crafts with other recycled crafts!


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