Making a Cardboard Box Play Camera

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July 12, 2019

Cardboard Box Play Camera - front and back of a recycled box pretend camerasBefore tossing out your cardboard food boxes, you could possibly up-cycle them into a new and fun toy! I was able to save $30 by not buying 2 pretend toy cameras that do not work, instead I made this play camera for free!


This camera can work if you use your imagination. With the toilet paper tube resembling the scope/lens, your child can pretend to take a picture and explain what they see as the image.

Another way, my kids enjoy playing with their cameras is in a form of a game, inspired by "I-Spy". Both kids will look into their camera and I would say, find a purple flower to take a picture of and they will look in the eyehole of their camera to find the flower and pretend snapping a photo!

Total Time: 25 minutes


  • scrapbook paper
  • bottle cap
  • square cardboard box
  • scissors
  • toilet paper roll
  • hot glue
  • tape
  • ribbon
Cardboard Box Play Camera - supplies


  1. You will need a square/rectangle shaped cardboard box to create your camera. I used (2) Pressed by Kind Snack Boxes to make (2) play cameras for my son and daughter.
  2. Advertisement

  3. The front of each box has a square cut out already. I flipped over to the back of the box and made a smaller rectangle cut out.
  4. Cardboard Box Play Camera - cut a small opening in the back of the box. These had open fronts.
    Cardboard Box Play Camera - two boxes with cutouts complete
  5. Cut desired length of a toilet paper roll for the lens.
  6. Cardboard Box Play Camera - cut lengths of TP rolls
  7. Wrap a piece of scrapbook paper over the larger square on the front. Cut a + (plus) slit in the center.
  8. Cardboard Box Play Camera - wrap a piece of scrapbook paper over the opening in the front and cut a + in the center of the opening underneath
  9. Place toilet paper roll on the outside and fold flaps into the toilet paper then tape down in place.
  10. Cardboard Box Play Camera - place the TP roll on the outside and fold the cut edges into the roll
    Cardboard Box Play Camera - tape in place
    Cardboard Box Play Camera - TP tube in place as lens

  11. Now wrap the remaining area of the box up with pieces of scrapbook paper and tape (or glue, but we use tape because the kids are impatient at times so it's faster without the drying time.)
  12. Cardboard Box Play Camera - cover the rest of the box(es) with paper and tape or glue in place
    Cardboard Box Play Camera - wrapping around to back side
  13. Then with the smaller square (back), you can tape up pieces of paper to create your peephole. It will need to be center aligned to the toilet paper roll so you can see out of it.
  14. Cardboard Box Play Camera - back of box
    Cardboard Box Play Camera - cover the back with pieces of paper arranged so that you can see through the TP tube
  15. Optional - For finishing touches, I taped ribbon to the sides of the camera so it a could be worn as a necklace and hot glued a bottle cap to the top as the pretend button.
  16. Cardboard Box Play Camera - front of camera before addition of strap and button
    Cardboard Box Play Camera - length of ribbon cut to tape to the sides
    Cardboard Box Play Camera - bottle cap hot glued on for a shutter button
    Cardboard Box Play Camera

  17. Repeat same steps to anymore cameras you make.
  18. Cardboard Box Play Camera - second camera under construction
    Cardboard Box Play Camera - from the back
    Cardboard Box Play Camera - front before addition of the bottle cap
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