How to Build a Box Car

Things You'll Need

  • Large cardboard box
  • Paper or plastic plates
  • Paint
  • Butcher paper
  • Ribbons or thick string/rope
  • Glue
  • Stickers, glitter, etc.
  • Scissors, knife or box cutter

Building a simple box car with your preschooler is a great way to help them create a "big" project that they can enjoy for quite some time. The biggest advantage is that the car can look large and impressive without requiring massive amounts of work. Plus, once they slip the box over their shoulders and go running around in a "race," you can combine exercise with crafts and creativity.

How to Build a Box Car

Choose a box that is slightly wider than your child's shoulders. It needs to be big enough for them to both keep their arms inside and let them hang slightly over the side. (Your child will most likely want to do both when they run around.)

Remove the bottom of the box with a knife or scissors.

Cut a rectangle in the top of the box which leaves a lip a few inches wide around the entire rim. This is where you will attach the ribbon or ropes to hang the box from your child's shoulders.

Decorate your box with your child. Consider painting or even spray painting a bottom coat first. Alternately, you can cover the sides of the box with colored butcher paper. Afterwards, add any decorations your child desires include racing numbers, racing stripes or just stickers, glitter and anything else they think is fun.

Attach the paper or plastic plates to the bottom. You can simply glue these on to look like wheels. Or, if you feel more creative, you can connect them with a pin so that they actually spin.

Cut four small holes in the "lip" on top of the box to attach the ribbons or string. Set the holes slightly wider than your child's neck, but not too wide since the ribbons/string will move when your child runs.

Tie the ribbons or string through the holes. You will need to experiment to get the correct tension to make these comfortable for your child. Be sure the car hangs neither too low nor too high. If the box seems to hang too loose, tie the ribbons together at the back to secure them behind your child's neck.

Once all the decorations are dry, set your child free to run and race like crazy with their new box car!


  • Consider adding a "hood" or "spoiler" with the leftover cardboard from the top and bottom of the box. Use small cups as headlights.


  • Be careful about the materials you choose to hang the car on your child's shoulders. If the material is uncomfortable, your child won't want to use their car.

About the Author

Craig Brewer, a graduate of the University of Texas, has been a freelance writer for 12 years, while also working as a software engineer and video game tester. He has published articles in a number of regional magazines, as well as all over the internet.