Cardboard Gingerbread House

cardboard gingerbread activity for kids

This cardboard gingerbread house is a process art activity that helps kids create and build fine motor skills with a gingerbread house theme! Pair this with our decorate a gingerbread house Google slide deck for hands-on fun that the kids will love this holiday season.

cardboard gingerbread activity for kids

It was really easy and Big Sister and Little Guy played with it for a long time.  The creating part lasted a while when the babies were sleeping.   Sleeping Beauty looooves her new house 😉  

To make it, I cut up a box into enough pieces, just eye-balling the size.  No need for measuring.  The kids don’t notice and you never know when a superhero might accidentally destroy the house 😉

Make a cardboard gingerbread house with kids using cardboard boxes.

How to make a cardboard gingerbread house 

Little Guy wanted me to use his special red duct tape.    

To easily get the house shape, lay the tape on one piece then stick the corner piece onto the strip of tape.)  

You can make a row of four squares then close up the last shape by putting the tape on from the inside.   

Steps to make a cardboard gingerbread house.

  After all the seams are taped up, turn the whole thing upside down.  You don’t need a floor…so princesses and superheros can get in a little easier…

Tape the triangle roof pieces on.

Tape triangle pieces to the cardboard house.
Peel cardboard to make a roof for the cardboard gingerbread house.

 Make the cardboard gingerbread house roof

Then, cover with two more squares for a roof.  I pulled one side of the cardboard off for a shingled look.    

To tape the roof on, work from the inside and tape one roof side on first by taping the inside edges.

Then, stick tape to the edge of the other side of the triangle. Slightly bend the long piece of tape and place the other cardboard roof piece ontop so it sticks to the bent tape.

It looks cute, I think 🙂   Spiderman really liked his new home.

Cardboard gingerbread house for pretend play
Cardboard gingerbread house activity

Decorate the cardboard gingerbread house

After it was built, I pulled out a bag of mixed crafting materials and a ton of glue.    

Decorate a cardboard gingerbread house with craft materials.

  Big Sister had so much fun.  She went crazy gluing stuff on.  

It was a lot like our process vs. product play activity. 

Cardboard gingerbread house craft for kids

Use colored tape, beads, craft pom poms, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, crepe paper, and other craft materials to decorate the cardboard gingerbread house.

Kids can make a gingerbread house with craft materials.

  We had a fun day with our Candy-less Gingerbread House…but Little Guy said needed a little bit of candy  to east while he was helping to build it.  “You have to eat a Gingerbread house, Mom!”  

We are having so much fun with our Christmas Play activities…Check out the new tab at the top for all of the  25 Days of Christmas Play that we’ve done so far.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

Magnet Play: Apple theme

This was a play invitation I set up one day for Big Sister and Little Guy.

Paper clips, magnets, tissue paper, and the corn bin.
((The Babies were sleeping…tooooo many hazards with this one!))

The Big Kids had fun exploring with the magnets.

We tore the tissue paper into small squares (Tearing paper into little bits works on those small muscles in the hands).  Put a couple of paper clips into the tissue paper.
And crumble it up into a ball 
We were calling them “apples”. 
Only requiring a small stretch of the imagination 🙂

Big Sister and Little Guy went on an Apple Hunt, raking the magnets through the corn to grab up the apples.

It felt pretty neat on the hands to rake through the corn…a great sensory play activity!
We had a hunt for paper clips too…

Enjoy Today!

Indoor play: baby edition…spoons and cups

Indoor Play Ideas

This was a simple invitation to play that I set up for the babies one day after breakfast was finished. 

They loved the idea!  Putting spoons in the cup, taking them out of the cups…
Banging the cups off of the table…

Hearing the loud sound when they rattled the spoons around in the cups.

They turned the cups over and started playing drums with the spoons.
Little Guy loves any thing drums, so this was too good to pass up!

This easy play activity entertained for a long time!
Looking for other indoor play ideas??? Try these:

Process vs Product Focused Play

Recently, I went to a continuing education course at Little Guy’s preschool.  It was offered up to parents, teachers, child care workers…all about Education Through Play.  
One tip for educational play was the concept of process play vs. product play.  Product Focused Play is working toward a specific end (“here, copy this cute little brown owl that is sitting on a branch, using this paper plate and those cupcake liners”).
Process Focused Play, the instructor outlined, is creative, open ended, and works on the child’s thought processes. The child is provided with materials and given an open-ended opportunity to create.  Imagine.  Explore materials.  There is no specific end product with process play.  Only, the opportunity to express themselves through language, creativity, open-ended motor development.  As an OT, this is great! …Provide the fine motor dexterity tasks, sensory opportunities, and age-appropriate tools (scissors, pencils, crayons, paint brushes), and assess and observe the child’s abilities in order to develop goals to meet functional levels!

Of course, Product Focused Play (making that specific art project) is SO important for a child’s development too…direction following, cutting a strait/curved/angled line, sequencing, specific media use, and much more…all are needed to succeed in the school setting.  
We did a little Process Focused art this week, bringing out all kinds of materials and a big old piece of cardboard.  The kids went to it, learning throughout the process of creating!
The only thing I told them was “make something”.  (I didn’t say this and then go off to change out laundry or put away dishwasher dishes…I sat there with them, engaged in their process, and we talked. About the stuff they were using, about what they were making, about why they were using what they were, and about what’s for lunch…hey, we were hungry!) Language development at its finest!
As they created (and we talked lunch), they had no clue about the number of skills they were refining!
Scissor skills while cutting yarn…

Fine pincer grasp to pick up the yarn, Bilateral coordination to work both hands together…

Letter formation, Tripod grasp and Separating the two sides of the hand to sprinkle glitter, Gross hand grasp to squeeze the glue bottle, Sensory exploration…

Tripod grasp to hold the yarn, Eye-hand coordination to cut along the length of yarn, Controlled use of scissors…
No wonder they were hungry!
Little guy made a fire with red yarn.  He then decided to add logs all around it and played with this allll day! He used his Lincoln logs to make a house to go with it and the little cowboy and Indian guys to play out all kinds of stories.
Big Sister made made spaghetti and meatballs.  She drew in a fork, spoon, and salad.  She had her baby dolls eating from this little scene.  
Imagination, Creativity, Exploration
We had a lot of FUN with our Process Play! 

Golf Tees and a Hammer

Counting Manipulatives and Fine Motor Skills 
I picked these golf tees up earlier this year during a shopping trip, figuring we would use them for some activity…or actual golfing 😉 They were only a buck for 100 tees. We have these hammers from a Melissa and Doug toy and I thought we could use that to hammer the tees into some egg cartons. 

Little Guy used the golf tees (or Golf Teeth, as he called them), to count out how many he needed for the egg carton, learning to count out manipulatives. 
He’s working that tripod grasp to hold the tees, pushing them into the egg carton for resistance, building those intrinsic muscles for fine motor dexterity. 

Little Guy LOOOOVED this activity! He said, “Mom, when I grow up, I am going to do this because I’m going to be a Dad and Dads hammer.”  He has been asking to do the “Golf Teeth Hammer Game” every day, several times a day, ever since. 

Look at that Tripod Grasp. This is such a great activity for pre-writing and working on the correct and most efficient way to hold a pencil.

Holding the tee and the hammer provides awesome bilateral coordination (using two sides of the body together) and eye hand coordination. These are needed for so many functional skills in play, dressing, handwriting, shoe tying.

You could do this with a cardboard box or Styrofoam. Putting it on an incline or vertical incline would add an extended wrist for improved grasp on the tee. 

We will be doing this activity again, for sure!
~Posted by Colleen

Fine Motor Water Beads Activity

I’ve seen Water Bead play all over Pinterest and the web. We had to try them! They are the beads you see in vases with flower arrangements and you can find them in the floral aisle of Walmart. I’ve even heard that  Dollar Tree carries them. They are non-toxic and supposedly stay squishy for years once they are hydrated.

So easy to do (and fun for little hands). Add water…

Drain the water in a colander and PLAY!

We left them over night but they hydrate in about 6 hours.
Baby Girl LOOOOOVED playing with these things! We had them sitting in this bin on the counter the other day and every time she caught a glimpse, she got all excited and wanted to play.
We kept the binky in the mouth when Baby Girl played.
Use a flashlight and make them shine.
Dinosaurs MAY have been caught stomping, kicking, eating, and fighting the water beads…
So squishy on bare toes! Our neighbor came over with her little guy to get in on the fun.

This was so fun and water beads are so cool to play with. The imagination really emerged  when dinosaurs came onto the table. We have the water beads in a bin with a lid now. What to do with them next….hmmmm… 🙂

Growing Memories

The Dirt will wash away, but the Memories will last!
We spend a TON of time outside.  Lately, we’ve been playing a lot in our “mud pit” as Little Guy calls this part of our yard. We pull out the shovels, construction vehicles, and add in all kinds of extra things. 
It is so fun to see them explore and learn through sensory play. Kids learn not only about their senses, but learn about their world, all through sensory exploration. Getting messy adds great tactile integration.
We started with a little section of the yard with hard dirt and rocks and added some left over potting soil from planting earlier this year. The big kids took turns scooping dirt and adding acorns.

 Nothing says “summer” like bare toes in the dirt…
…School may be back in session, but we are still enjoying summer while this warm weather lasts 🙂

A little pattern learning with rocks and acorns…
My poor parsley plant needs a little love! It didn’t work out indoors, so it can’t hurt to try outside. We watered it and got some great mud to scoop…more sensory processing!

Playing on hands and knees with an extended wrist and tripod grasp to move those little rocks and trucks. All are important precursors to handwriting.
Little Guy said “Mom, this is my favorite thing ever to do”! How cool is it to hear that from such a simple play activity?!!?
An 11 month old can explore seashells. As always, keep close supervision to be sure none go in the mouth. Baby Girl played for a looong time with the seashells!

 We finished with some sorting play with the big kids. Baby Girl loves putting things into containers and taking them back out. This is such a great tool for language learning! 

Sorting, Patterns, Exploring, Language, Fine Motor work, Pre-Handwriting, Planting, Sensory Exploration…so many cool accomplishments today!
Go outside and play in the dirt!

Pizza Dip

Delicious Pizza Dip
I made this dip for a Labor Day party and it was AMAZING!  I will be adding this to my recipe book and making it again. It smells like someone just baked a pizza in the kitchen…it is hot and bubbly and tastes like a warm gooey pizza.  You gotta try this!  Scoop it up with some bruchetta bread or crackers.
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded/grated
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded/grated
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese shredded/grated
2 ounces pepperoni, chopped slices
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons black olives, sliced
1/2 tsp italian seasonings
  1. Mix the cream cheese, sour cream mayonnaise, mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano and spread it across the bottom of a pie plate.
  2. Spread the pizza sauce on top and sprinkle on the cheese, pepperoni, green pepper and olives.
  3. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the sides are bubbling and the cheese cheese has melted and turned golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. 
~Posted by Leanne