Imaginative Games with Cardboard Blocks for Toddlers

By Shannon Bussnick, LSW

You can find Shannon’s blog at

Think back to your childhood… what games stand out the most?

For many, it’s the experiences that offered the chance to ‘think outside the box’—the ones that broadened the imagination and enhanced creativity.

Oftentimes, parents may feel the pressure to spend a fortune on the newest and coolest toys in hopes to provide their child with an abundant play experience.

However, when it comes to fostering an environment for healthy and happy child development, everyday items found at home can truly be a diamond in the rough—and equally as effective as the toys found at your local toy store.

A breath of fresh air… right?

Fostering Imagination at Home

While you can absolutely get crafty with a plethora of household supplies lying around, there’s one in particular that always seems to be piling up to no avail: cardboard boxes!

Transforming a piece of cardboard into a set of stacking blocks, playhouse, or even a makeshift tunnel is not only doable, but pretty simple with just a few supplies.

Who knew adventure was only a few steps away?—in your recycling bin for that matter!

Let’s take a look at some of our favorite imaginative games with cardboard blocks that will broaden your toddlers’ imagination, strengthen motor skills, reinforce critical thinking, and enhance creativity.

Imaginative Games with Cardboard Blocks Your Toddler will Love

A cardboard box is a blank canvas—a surface to transform and bring to life!

By the way, playing with boxes or blocks is equally fun for boys and girls!

There are many ways to create cardboard blocks with your toddler and many developmental benefits that can arise from engaging in this style of play.

According to Kids Health, “Building a tower (and figuring out how to stop it from toppling over) encourages problem-solving skills and hand–eye coordination.

Preschoolers use their imaginations to create buildings, vehicles, animals, and more from simple construction sets”


Here are a few supplies you’ll need before getting started


Scissors (to be used only by an adult or children can use safety scissors under supervision)

Heavy-duty tape (e.g., duct-tape, masking-tape, other non-toxic adhesive)

Markers or Crayons (Non-toxic markers or crayons)

Build a Tower

A simple game, sure, but it’s one your toddler can learn quickly and can do independently—a win-win if you ask me!

Prepare a set of 5-8 cardboard blocks (the blocks can vary in size or be the same) and show your toddler how to get started.

Soon they’ll be building skyscrapers around the house, knocking them down, and starting right back up again.

Looking for a little competition? Try a block building competition!

Match ‘em Up!

If your toddler is beginning to learn about new topics such as colors, numbers, or animals, this matching game will help to improve their classification skills.

With an even number of cardboard blocks, you’ll want to design pairs of items for your toddler to group together (e.g., two pigs, two number 5’s, two of the color red).

Increase the challenge by laying out the blocks in a random order before getting started.

This game will give your toddler many opportunities to have fun while their brain makes new, lasting connections.

Make a Maze

Creating a maze using cardboard blocks allows a toddler to use problem-solving skills and enhance creativity simultaneously.

To connect the blocks, try using tape, straws, or pipe cleaners.

If your toddler wants to connect bigger blocks, cut a paper-towel tube in half or use a few toilet-paper tubes.

You can also have a look at the best building block toys here.

Toddlers can decorate the blocks with crayons, markers, or stickers, to enhance the overall experience.

Block Bowling

If your toddler hasn’t had the opportunity to enter a good ol’ bowling alley yet, block bowling is a great introduction to sports and other physical activities.

First, you’ll want to create a pyramid with as many cardboard blocks as you have (8-12 would be ideal) with a similar setup to a frame of bowling pins.

Next, you’ll need a soft, squishy ball (avoid using heavier items that could potentially be dangerous or hazardous) to knock down the blocks.

The goal should be to knock down as many blocks as possible!

Parents can jump in to reset the frame alongside their toddler and give some fun pointers along the way.

In this game, toddlers build self-esteem, release stored-up energy, and engage in a positive physical activity that challenges them.

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