Cardboard Box School Bus

Aug 17, 2015

When it's time to go back to school, young children can feel left out—especially kids whose older siblings put backpacks on their shoulders and embark on glorious yellow school buses to mysterious places.

My son has a sense of awe for those school buses, so we celebrated the back-to-school season by making our very own school bus from a cardboard box. It's big enough that my son can wear it and "drive" it around to all sorts of places!

You Will Need:

  • Two cardboard boxes (the dimensions don't really matter, but we used a 15 x 10 x 11 cardboard box from our recycle bin and a 9.5 x 7 x 6 carton from animal crackers that are now doing just fine in a bag)
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue
  • Yellow construction paper
  • Sticky foam or paper in different colours
  • Markers


1. Start with two empty cardboard boxes: a big one for the cabin and a little one for the engine compartment. 

2. Little ones will need help with the hot glue. Use a hot glue gun to seal the bottom of the big cardboard box shut. After the glue sets, cut a circle in it—the circle should be big enough that your child can fit his or her body through it. The reason you're doing this instead of simply cutting the entire bottom out is to leave a flange that creates structural stability.

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3. Cut the top flaps off. Flip the box, so the top becomes the bottom.

4. Attach the little box to the front of the big box with hot glue.

Boxes used to make a cardboard box school bus.

5. Once the glue sets, you can start wrapping the boxes in yellow paper. Secure the paper with hot glue. I started with the front and the back of the bus, cutting rectangles to size. To cut the paper for the sides, I lay the bus down onto the paper and outlined its silhouette with a pencil.

6. Decorating the bus was the most fun! I used sticky foam to make the windows, lights and the grill on the front, but coloured paper would work too. I also drew a couple of lines on the sides and wrote “SCHOOL BUS” above the windshield.

Transforming cardboard boxes into a yellow school bus.

My son kept worrying that I'd forget the wheels. He brought it up several times while we were decorating it, “It's missing a part, Mommy!”

Then he would compare our bus to his toy bus and show me exactly what the bus was missing. So I made four circles from the cardboard flaps that I cut off in the very beginning and glued some black paper to them, then attached them to the body of the bus.

There were many test drives during the process of making the school bus, but once it was ready, we took it outside and in no time there was a happy school bus riding around our backyard.

A boy plays with the cardboard box school bus.

Article Author Liska Myers
Liska Myers

Read more from Liska here.

When not constructing lego towers and measuring the depth of puddles with her son, Liska likes to work on toys for him. Her blog Adventure in a Box is a collection of ideas on how to fill a playroom with unique homemade toys: build a fairy tree house, cut shadow puppets, give a makeover to old wooden blocks and so on. Liska also enjoys reading, painting, and exploring outdoors. You can follow her family's life and adventures on her blog, Facebook and Instagram.

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