DIY cardboard animals {with templates}

by Bar

DIY cardboard animals ~ recycled art from boxes ~ free templates | small for big

We recently moved, which means that brown boxes have become part of the décor. I am so tired of looking at them! I wish they were pink… or robin’s egg. Obviously, being the compulsive re-user that I am, we had to make something out of them. There is so much you can do with a brown box, oh my goodness! Since my daughter is studying French animal names and my son is obsessed with penguins, we went with animals.

DIY cardboard animals ~ recycled art ~ free templates | @smallforbig

DIY cardboard animals ~ recycled art ~ free templates | @smallforbig


Brown boxes, cereal boxes, or any cardboard

Templates: le chat, le chien, la chèvre, le renard, le cheval, le pingouin

Black marker

Exacto knife

Cutting mat

Tempera paint + brushes
Creativity kits for kids!


1. Trace your animals onto the cardboard. If you are tracing onto boxes, cut out shapes using a sharp X-acto knife. It will be very hard to use scissors on boxes, so if you don’t have an X-acto, now is the time to buy one! They are not expensive, and I use mine all the time. Ditto with the cutting mat, it comes in very handy so I would say to invest in one if you can. Cutting the shapes was the hardest part of this project. I mean, it really only took about a minute or two, but it’s hard cutting the small feet and ears. If you are using cereal boxes, poster board, or other cardboard, then you can use scissors.

DIY cardboard animals ~ recycled art ~ free templates | @smallforbig

DIY cardboard animals ~ recycled art ~ free templates | @smallforbig

2. We painted the animals with a solid color first, but this is optional.

3. I had this vision of patterned animals. I brought my kids to my computer and showed them my all of the prints and patterns on my Pinterest board. We talked about how a simple shape or line can take on a whole new look and feel when it is repeated. We talked about how pattern is really everywhere: From their sheets and placemats, to the rugs, their clothes, washi tape, and even the bandaids they use. They were totally into it!

DIY cardboard animals ~ recycled art ~ free templates | @smallforbig

DIY cardboard animals ~ recycled art ~ free templates | @smallforbig

4. I gave them some special foam brushes to help make shapes, and we also used a sharpie. We could have done some potato stamping, or rubber stamping, too. There are so many ways to create patterns! One other way to make these would be to use collage materials (like these owls). I think this would be especially fun for the little ones… and easier than paint. (In fact, a more open-ended free paint would be more fun for littles. The patterns create an amazing result, but can be frustrating if you don’t have good find motor control. )

DIY cardboard animals ~ recycled art ~ free templates | @smallforbig

I love these animal shapes so much, I want to do a whole new series with whales, elephants and birds. I sure have enough boxes to make this happen. Stay tuned!

xo, Bar

Creativity kits for kids!

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alessandra February 17, 2014 at 7:06 am

love them!!!!!
xxxxx Ale


2 Bar February 23, 2014 at 6:23 am

thanks Ale!! xo bar


3 meri cherry February 17, 2014 at 11:14 am

I am head over heals in love with these animals and your art space!!! Amazing Bar!!


4 Bar February 23, 2014 at 6:25 am

thanks, meri… but it’s nothing compared to your art space!! xo


5 Tereza February 18, 2014 at 10:18 am

This is a great cute idea, I will definitely be doing this with my son, thanks for sharing!


6 Bar February 23, 2014 at 6:25 am

awesome, i hope you do try it, tereza! xo bar


7 Jeanine February 18, 2014 at 11:04 am

what a gorgeous way to re-use wow! we do a lot of recycling in our crafting, even using old crafts, paint pictures etc. we have our own fair share of cardboard & cereal boxes too, so i really appreciate the templates as i cannot draw a square without a ruler: these will come in handy for our winter animal diarama small world fun! thank you again, adore your webspace here so much ;D


8 Bar February 23, 2014 at 6:26 am

i love re-using, too. there are so many good materials that we would otherwise throw away every day. i’m glad you will be able to use the templates, and thanks for your comment! xo bar


9 Jamie February 19, 2014 at 7:10 am

Thank you so much for the great tutorial and templates. I have been searching for a great painting project for my daughter’s 8th birthday party and this is the winner! I love that we can repurpose cereal boxes and cardboard for this. The kids will love it!


10 Bar February 23, 2014 at 6:28 am

thanks, jamie!! share photos with me if you do end up doing this for your daughter’s b-day!


11 Artist in LA LA Land February 20, 2014 at 4:22 pm

This is a beautiful DIY project! What a great way to use your boxes after moving! And what a fun way to decorate your new place!


12 Bar February 23, 2014 at 6:29 am

thanks melissa! just checked out your easy shop…..sooooo cute!! loved everything. thanks for your comment! xo bar


13 Maureen Veltenaar Scharbay February 27, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Were can I get theaters of THE animale so I can copy them?


14 Bar March 2, 2014 at 12:09 pm

maureen, if you mean templates, they are available to download for free on the blog post. Just click on the green highlighted animal names. hope this helps! bar


15 tenorio February 28, 2014 at 5:39 pm

por favor queria que colocassem as figuras individuais


16 Mirka March 1, 2014 at 8:40 am

We made these with our 3 y/o and she loved them. Thanks for the great idea.


17 Bar March 2, 2014 at 12:06 pm

yay!! that’s fantastic! thanks for doing this craft…would love to see your results if you care to share :) xo bar


18 Julie March 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Wow it is so gorgeous! !!^^ I can’t wait to do this for my 3 year old son!! Thanks a lot for great template and instruction!^^


19 Bar March 14, 2014 at 5:37 pm

thank you julie!! i hope you do try…. and with a 3-yr old it would also be fun to put out some materials to glue on. like buttons, paper scraps or any recycled materials. collage is lots of fun for the little ones! xo bar


20 Renee April 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

This is a great idea. My crafty seven year old is working on this project now. I was wondering what suggestions you might have for what to do with these after you make them — how to display them or what to make with them after they are done instead of just having a pile of the animals sitting around. Would love to hear your suggestions.


21 Bar May 6, 2014 at 6:31 am

thanks renee! good question. right now, our animals are still up on our mantle, and some are up in my son’s room on his bookshelves. i put them in front of the books, too, just as decoration. one thing you could do is make holes at the top and string them together like a garland. another idea is to hang them like a mobile from a wire hanger, or even a stick from the yard. good luck, and let me know how it goes! xo bar


22 Carolyn Childs June 29, 2016 at 12:59 am

I was thinking of how I could use these in my 4th grade classroom. Great simple craft – I would use cereal boxes & scissors. Then we will choose something we are reading and dramatize it – maybe a poem, perhaps reader’s theater etc. and do a sort of puppet show, maybe tape on the larger craft sticks (tongue depressers) or even cardboard strips so they could remove later if they want – and we could meet our visual arts as well as performing arts standards! I’m sure I could work in a Science or Social Studies standard or two if I tried!


23 mari June 29, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Wow, that sounds like an amazing way to use this craft. I’m wishing I could join you in the classroom! Let us know how it turns out!


24 mykidsguide May 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm

This is adorable.. I pinned it and thanks for sharing on our weekly craft party.


25 mari May 16, 2014 at 11:30 am

That’s great news, thank you!


26 Lele June 30, 2014 at 6:32 am

I´m a brazilian blogger and my daughter make a zoo cardboard!
Look this:
(sorry my english poor)


27 Lisa @ The Wellness Wife July 20, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Thanks for sharing and for providing the templates! They could be used for so many crafts!


28 Bar July 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm

you’re welcome lisa…and so true! i have used these animals to cut out from watercolor paper and we did cards for grandparents. they were gorgeous. send along anything you’ve done, i would love to see! xx bar


29 Lisa @ The Wellness Wife August 1, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Absolutely! Will do!


30 Jaime September 19, 2014 at 9:09 pm

My girls and i had so much fun doing this craft! Thank you so much for the templates.


31 Jaime September 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm
32 mari September 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm

That’s great Jaime – so cute!!!


33 PAT October 22, 2014 at 10:46 am

I’ts very interesting, good idea.


34 Marie-Laure {La maison de Loulou} January 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm

hello Bar,

I apologize a zillions time for the no crediting on IG yesterday. The Enfants Terribles Editor’s just rectify that error.

Thank you again for all the inspirations:



35 Bar January 28, 2015 at 9:13 pm

hi marie-laure, thank you for leaving a comment! i know you are so good at crediting me, i just wanted to make sure the magazine remembered to credit me in instagram. thank you for following up and thank you for loving my work!! xo bar


36 Shayla Malm September 27, 2015 at 2:16 pm

¿porqúe es la animales en la langúaje qual es francés?
Why is the animals in the language which is french?


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