Many adults look at a cardboard box and think of what was in it; a kid, however, sees potential--the box could turn into a space ship, a fort, or even a homemade car. Help that imagination grow by helping your child make the box into a sleek sports car, a rugged jeep, or whatever kind of car he wants to design.
Place the box with a long panel facing you. Decide which end is the front or back, and start brainstorming how the car will look. Pencil in a side profile for the car, drawing a hood, a windshield, a roof (unless it's a convertible) and a rear window. Add in side windows and a door. Sketch this design lightly, allowing for changes if you need to make some. You can use the sketch listed under Resources for inspiration or guidance.
Trace the profile and details of the car in marker. Over-write the windows, doors, and other elements you designed. Draw X marks on the pieces you want to cut out. Make the windshield a 90-degree angle to both make it easier and accommodate a steering wheel later.
Copy the design onto the other side of the box, so that the hood on both designs is at the front. Make sure it's a close duplicate, or the car may look lopsided.
Draw tabs onto some of the flat surfaces along the hood, trunk and windshields of the car. Draw a parallel line a couple of inches above the car outline in the X-ed out areas. Connect those parallel lines to the car outline. Repeat on the other side.
Cut out the X-ed areas on the car, including windows. Start by cutting along the top, front and rear edges, then removing the car profile. Leave the tabs intact. If your car has a door, cut lines along the top, bottom and rear-facing lines, but leave the front lines uncut to act as a hinge.
Fold the tabs inward. Dab some glue onto the tops of these tabs.
Fold the front and rear panels down onto the tabs and glue them in place. If possible, clamp or tape them down. Trim the excess cardboard off the vehicle. Leave the car to dry overnight.
Draw and cut out a windshield and rear window.
Wheels & Decoration
Place a paper plate against the front of a side panel and trace the outline. Join the outline from the middle of the plate to the bottom to create a wheel well. Repeat with the rear of this side panel, then on the other side to make four wheel wells.
Paint or glue to cover the wheel wells in black.
Decorate four of the paper plates to look like wheels. Add any details that you think should be on your wheels, like a brand name or treads. If your car has a spare tire mounted on the back door, make a spare tire.
Decorate a paper plate to look like a steering wheel. Cut out parts of the middle to create a grip.
Decorate the rest of the car with your construction paper, paint, stickers or anything else you want to use to make the car pretty. If you glue or paint anything, leave the car to dry for a couple of hours.
Attach one wheel to a wheel well using split pins at the center of both. Repeat for the remaining four wheels. Mount your spare tire on the back of the car in the same fashion.
Attach the steering wheel inside the car just beneath the windshield with a split pin.