Have you ever played in a cardboard hut when you were a kid? Do you have any memories of a castle or a small cardboard house you made with your mom or dad? Do you want to share the same fun with your own children without much effort?

You'll see how easy it is to build a cardboard cabin of any size or shape, using nothing more than recycled cardboard and tape. You will then know how to build a cardboard hut with your children and you will have plenty of ideas and models.

What you need to build a cardboard hut

  • Cartons of a variety of sizes: Even if you don't need to absolutely pick up a box from a large appliance, try to find fairly large cardboard boxes (or boxes that you'll be able to open and flatten to form larger pieces).
  • Cardboard tubes: These are useful for adding strength to your structure. Look for something stronger than paper towel or gift paper tubes (suggestions below). If you can't find any, you can roll parts of your cardboard boxes.
  • A solid cutter: Warning: only adults should handle the cutter and make the cuts.
  • Adhesive tape: It's good to match the color of your cardboard if possible. I recommend good quality adhesive tape.
  • Felt pencils, paint, stickers and anything else that can help with decoration.

Preparation time: The only real preparation required is to find enough cardboard and tubes to make your cabin/cardboard house. It all comes down to the speed at which you find boxes.

Activity time: It will take about an hour to assemble your cardboard house/cabin. Subsequently, the decoration and the game is endless... the children will take over alone!

Location: wherever you want, as long as it's dry. You'll need a little space depending on the size of the house you're creating. If you're making your cardboard cabin inside, and you intend to put it outside when it's finished, keep in mind the width of your home's doors! The hut or cardboard house may not pass through.

Go on a carton hunt

Cardboard is the ideal material for your cabin / house / castle. It is easy to cut, fold, glue and decorate. The carton is also free (or not very expensive) and readily available. Also, using cardboard to make a cardboard shack is a great way to recycle it.

The fun starts with the hunt for cardboard. The more cardboard you gather, the more you can build a huge cardboard hut. There are many places to look for boxes. Employ your little assistants in one of these seven strategies to collect boxes for your cabin.

Strategy 1: Empty boxes. Look around your home or workplace and do some recuperation.' This kind of cardboard: the box of your new PC, or stereo or television. You've probably kept it in case you need to return the item for a refund or to resell it on eBay. Well, you don't really need that kind of empty cardboard. Have fun with it instead. The box of a flat screen TV could make an impressive roof!

Strategy 2: Scrap metal cans. Do you have an attic, garage or basement full of useless things? Be honest, we all do. Go find a cardboard box full of these useless things, empty it and take it. This is a great opportunity to declutter. You'll have fewer unnecessary things, more space, and more fun. It's an instant winning ticket!

Strategy 3: supermarkets or shops. You can request boxes at your supermarket or at a home furnishings or appliance store. They often have some to throw away and are usually more than happy to give them to you.

An added bonus is that they may have already flattened the boxes! Just pay attention to the boxes of fruits and vegetables, as they can be contaminated by moisture or odors, which is frankly not pleasant!

Strategy 4: The workplace. Do you work in an office or a town hall? Look near the photocopier. I guarantee you will find boxes. All the paper used to make photocopies is bought in boxes and your company will be happy to get rid of it.

Strategy #5: Other companies. If you work in a retail or manufacturing environment, or even a restaurant, then you probably have access to tons of cartons.

Strategy #6: Find cardboard tubes. To build a cardboard hut that lasts, cardboard tubes are the secret ingredient that gives strength and stability to your structure. To find them, look for companies that buy things in rolls: fabric or carpet sellers, printers, architects, etc. All of them have cardboard tubes and may be eager to get rid of them.

Create the frame of your hut / cardboard house

The first task when you start building your cardboard cabin is to assess how high and how wide it will be.

If the house has a door, think about the size of your child so that he can pass through it easily! Make sure you have enough cardboard available to cover the height, width and roof of the cardboard house. If not, plan to make a smaller cabin.

Find four large pieces of similar length to make the corners. Use the folding lines and flaps of the original boxes.

Need a bigger piece? Line up 2 smaller pieces by making their original folding lines match.

Lightly superimpose the ends and glue them together, in order to form a long piece with a fold over the entire height.

Use your tape to secure the end flaps together and create a sturdy cardboard corner with a foot.

Ask your little assistants to keep the corner in shape while you glue the tape (or vice versa). They like to feel that they are an important part of the construction.

Solidify the structure with cardboard tubes

Cardboard tubes are the secret of a solid hut. Attached to the corners, they provide additional support to make the cardboard hut more durable.

Find tubes the same height as your corners. You may need to reduce the length of the tubes or shorten your cardboard corners.

If you haven't been able to get cardboard tubes (or not enough), don't worry. You can roll or fold cardboard flat and use them in the same way.

Place the cardboard tubes along the corners. These will help solidify the structure and prevent windows and doors from folding in on themselves.

Create the windows

Glue flat cardboard between the corner posts on the sides and back of your house/cabin. These flat rooms should extend from the floor to the bottom of your window.

The openings that remain above these new "walls" will form the windows. Tape indoors and outdoors. Window sills are where your kids will look out the window, so make sure they're solid or you'll quickly have another door!

To add a shutter, as above, use a piece of cardboard that is long enough to cover the entire opening and secure it at the top with tape. Repeat the operation on the other sides of the house to create three windows and a door.