Who says you need to run out to the toy store every time your kid is in need of entertainment?! Just check your recycling bin.

Here are 19 activities and crafts that prove kids really do enjoy the box better than what’s inside it.

Best Buildings

Whether you set out to construct a single dwelling or an entire town, your kids will love the chance to crawl inside and play.

1. Personal Playhouse

Find a box that is large enough for your child to lay inside (not necessarily with limbs extended, some scrunching can happen). Leaving the bottom of the box intact, cut the two flaps off the top. Set them aside. With the opening of the box facing up, cut through the corner (from top to bottom) to separate one long side from a short side. Next, cut between the short size and the bottom of the box. One side of the box (the short side) should only be attached along a single edge.

Take one of the flaps that was removed from the top of the box. Securely tape it to the box along the vertical edge you just severed. The box top flap should be taped to the longer side of the box.

Next, tape the newly attached flap to the short side that was partially removed from the box (you may have to trim one piece so they are equal in size). Join them together to form the pitch of the house’s roof. Flip the box up so it sits on the shortest side, the original bottom of the box forms a vertical wall, and the newly constructed roof is at the top.

2. Castle

A large appliance box would make the ideal castle. Be sure to cut the scallops along the roof and a window for the princess to toss her hair through. A draw bridge can be cut out of the side and secured with yarn or rope.

3. Lemonade or Ice Cream Stand

With the hot summer months approaching, now is the perfect time to sell some cool treats and beverages.

Cut a service window out of the side of a large cardboard box. Secure a flat surface for the kids to place their sales items. Write the daily specials on the side of the box and you’re ready for business.

Spectacular Vehicles

With a cardboard box vehicle, no driver’s license is necessary!

4. Cars, Trucks, and Trains

The difference between a cardboard car, truck, and train will depend on your creativity. You’ll need some combination of these basic materials: paper plates for the tires and steering wheels, paper cups for the headlights, paint, and a sturdy piece of fabric if your kids choose to “wear” their vehicle around their neck.

If your kids plan to just sit and drive, your box can remain stationary. If the youngsters want to cruise around, you’ll have to cut an opening in the bottom for their legs.

Several boxes can be joined together (with fabric, yarn, or rope) to form a train. A ladder can be painted on the side to form a fire truck.

5. Airplane

Cut the flaps off the top of the box. Round the corners of the newly removed flaps (sharp edges are dangerous) to form the wings. Use a box cutter to make narrow openings in the side of the box (the longest sides), the length of your new airplane wings. Carefully slide the wings into the slits; secure them with tape if necessary.

Use other pieces of cardboard scraps to make a small propeller for the front of the plane. Let your kids fly off to foreign lands.

6. Boat

Use your creativity to make your cardboard box as boat-like as you want. Ideally, you’d start with a fairly large box. Cut porthole windows along the side. See if you can rig up a sail (either constructed from another cardboard box or a sheet).

Using a little paint to make waves on the side would help seal the deal.

Amazing Activities

Whether a large motor or small motor, these activities will keep your kids busy for hours.

7. Cardboard Slide

Unfold one large box or tape several flatten boxes together. Place the large piece of cardboard over the stairs. Now, you have a slide. The only question is: will your kids or toy cars be going down the slide? The answer will depend on your parenting style!

8. Drive-In Movie Theater

Give each child a box (large enough to sit inside). Decorate the box to look like a car. Use paper plates for the steering wheel and tires. Add paper cups to the front to look like lights.

Plop your kids in front of the TV and let them enjoy their drive-in movie theater experience. You could even deliver popcorn and drinks directly to their vehicles.

9. Matching

Cut a piece of cardboard into symmetrical squares. Put the same sticker on two squares so your child can find the matching sets. To make the game more unique, cut large squares. Get those little bodies moving around a bit!

Rather than flip up pieces of cardboard to find matches, try something different. Use one box to cut various shapes — squares, stars, circles, triangles, crosses, hearts, etc. Flatten another box and trace those shapes on the flat surface. Let your child match the cut piece to the outline drawn on the box.

10. Bean Bag Toss

Bean bag toss games have been around for centuries. Recently, the game has been formalized with the name "cornhole."

Find two boxes of similar size and shape (these will be the cornhole boards). Cut a single hole in each box (centered horizontally, but cheated towards the upper half vertically). Make your cornhole bags (fill old socks with dried corn or beans, roll up several socks inside each other to form balls, or scrunch up some newspaper).

Let your kids take turn tossing their cornhole bags at their cardboard cornhole boards. Follow the official rules, or make up your own.

11. Shape Sorter

Select several of your child’s favorite toys (blocks, plastic animals, balls, etc.). Trace these toys on the side of a cardboard box, making the outline slightly bigger than the actual toy. Next, cut out the newly drawn shapes.

Give your youngster the toys and let him drop them in the appropriate hole. Be sure there is a way to get the toys back out again when he’s done!

12. Tunnel

This activity is perfect for toddlers who love to crawl.

Open the flaps on the top and bottom of the box and lay it on the size. If you have multiple boxes, tape them together to form one long tunnel. You could even add challenges like speed bumps made from crinkled newspaper glued to the bottom or crepe paper streamers taped to the top.

If you don’t have boxes big enough for your kids to crawl through, make a tunnel for their cars. Cut holes in the side so they can maneuver their vehicles (and hands) through the box.

13. Cardboard Ball Chutes

Cut the top flaps off a box (or fold them in) so the inside of the box is easily accessible. Lean the box up against a wall.

Cut several toilet paper or paper towel rolls in half lengthwise. Glue or tape the newly formed ball chutes to the box bottom (now vertical side) at an angle. Each chute will need to drop the ball into the next one, so be sure they overlap.

Find a ball that will fit inside the chute and let your youngster play.

14. Basketball Arcade Game

Everyone loves to race the timer, seeing how many baskets they can make before the timer goes off. Let your kids play this arcade favorite at home.

Cut the top flaps off the box (or fold them inside). Cut a strip of malleable cardboard (perhaps from a cereal box) to form the basketball rim. Depending on the size of the box, you might want to trim the front edge a bit, making it easier for your child to reach inside.

Give your child several balls of similar size (tennis balls would be ideal). If you don’t have balls handy, scrunch up some newspaper and tape it tight.

A kitchen timer set close to the box can count down the seconds as your child races to score some baskets.

15. Tie Your Shoes

Help your preschoolers learn to tie their shoes.

Trace both the left and right shoe on a piece of cardboard. Poke holes to lace the “shoes.” Help your youngster learn to make bunny ears without that cumbersome knee in the way.

Inspired Art

Three dimensional art projects rock. Give them a try.

16. Art All Around You

Find a box that is big enough for your youngster to (kind of) comfortably fit inside. Next, dump a ton of art supplies into the box — crayons, markers, glue, construction paper, and whatever else you can get your hands on.

Let your child decorate every surface possible. With a big enough box and a little luck, your kiddo could be busy for hours!

17. Chalkboard

Use chalkboard paint to cover a cardboard box. Give your kids a box of chalk and let them go to town. The creative ways they use the box could surprise you!

18. Cardboard Mobile

Cut pieces of cardboard (preferably made of different thicknesses or textures) into medium-size scraps. Give these pieces to your preschooler, along with some yarn, a metal hanger, and some tape. Tape the cardboard pieces to one end of the yarn and tie the other end to the hanger.

Bring out some art supplies to make a super colorful mobile.

19. Mailbox

Cut a mail slot in a cardboard box and turn it into a mail box. Make an opening towards the bottom so the postmaster can retrieve the letters and parcels.

Encourage your kids to compose letters and cards to one another. Then, drop them in the mail so they can be delivered.

Do you have any suggestions we left off the list? Let us know all the creative ways you’ve used a cardboard box to entertain your children.