With the new school year looming we are about to get an influx of shoe boxes as we buy some more school shoes for the year.

l love adding shoe boxes to our collection of recycled bits and pieces as they can be used for all sorts of art and play experiences.

Shoe Box Art and Play Ideas for blog

Here are some of our favourite ways we have used shoe boxes (to create and play) in the past:

Shadow puppet boxesΒ  (Our shadow puppet boxes are explained in this post: Story Telling with Children’s Art and Creative Pieces.)

The beauty of these shadow puppet boxes is that they are a lot easier to make than you would expect. They are very “forgiving” for little artists of all ages and a heap of fun to play with.

Picture 171 shoe box shadow boxes

Alter the shoe box for a fun canvas – we cut out small sections and covered these with mesh, perfect for threading and inserting craft supplies.

Picture 009 Covered boxes with mesh

This canvas is perfect for younger as well as older children.

Older children can transform these shoe boxes with mesh pieces into special characters (such as the one pictured below on the left)Β  or younger artists could cover the canvas in paint and poke feathers, flowers, pipe cleaners etcΒ  into the mesh sections (as seen in the photo on the right below).

Mesh box creations collage for blog

Shoe box birthday cakes – three ideas include using: (1) glue and craft supplies, (2) contact and craft supplies and (3) play dough.

Cover shoe boxes in paper. Children thenΒ  glue on various craft supplies to create a “cake” – perfect for a tea party with the toys to celebrate a special toy’s birthday!

picture 038 paper and glue cake

For a less mess version, give the glue a complete miss (perfect for toddlers) and cover shoe boxes in paper and then clear contact, with the sticky side facing out. Children can then secure assorted craft supplies onto the sticky contact on the box (set up for this activity featured in the photo below).

Picture 077 contact boxes to make cakes

Cover a shoe box in paper and then use play dough to decorate the box and transform it into a “cake”.

Picture 036  play dough cake

Shoe boxes as a canvas for play dough creations.

The last time we used shoe boxes was for our Christmas Play Doh village which you can see in this blog post.

Once again, this is an activity that an older child as well as younger children can enjoy. My seven year old created the house on the left and my three year old (who will be 4 in April this year) with some help, made the house on the right.

Play Doh Christmas Village Collage for blog

Shoe box construction.

Combine shoe boxes with other recyclable materials and add pegs to secure the pieces together. A mess free creative experience that leads to lots of creative play.

Shoe box construction collage for blog

Threading Box.

I made this threading box several years ago for my puppy loving little boy. To make this: cut out a section from the lid of the box. Cover this section with mesh (I bought a large roll of this from our local cheap shop). I covered the box in gift wrap featuring dogs and also used some of the gift wrap to make discs for my son to thread onto the pipe cleaners and straws.

Picture 458 Threading box

Peek-a-boo Sensory Board.

Shoe box lids need not go to waste. Create fun peek-a-boo games for your baby with them. To make this a more stimulating and tactile activity I added ribbon and pom poms to four small pieces of fabric. Under each piece of fabric was a photo (covered in clear contact) of a family member. You could place pictures of animals, favourite characters, or a picture to represent a favourite song under the fabric pieces.

Sensory peek-a-boo lid collage for blog