Make an astronaut's costume and your youngster is ready to explore the stars.

How to Make a Child's Space Ship Out of Cardboard

by Rosenya Faith

If you're having trouble getting your hands on a real rocket ship for your little astronaut, you might be able to satisfy his curiosity about space exploration for now with a handmade rocket ship in the playroom instead. With a little imagination, this cardboard rocket ship could be your youngster's favorite play fort ever -- and the perfect hiding spot for hide-and-seek -- and you get to give him a little lesson in creative ways to recycle, too.

Lay the cardboard box on its side. A refrigerator box will make the most realistic and spacious space ship, but a box from a stove, dishwasher or washing machine will work, too. Open one long seam of the box. It should pull apart using your fingers, but you might need to use a utility knife if the adhesive is resisting your attempts.

Remove the flaps from both short ends of the box with the utility knife and set these aside for later. Make sure no little fingers are close to the box when you're working with the knife.

Measure the width of the box from one long edge to the other and divide this number by six. Divide the top of the box into six sections according to your previous measurement and fold the box at these divisions to make a six-sided shape.

Lay the cardboard flat and cut a triangle shape about 18 inches tall from each of the six folded section. Now, when you reassemble the box, the triangle flaps will form a pointed top.

Fold the box to make the six-sided shape again and arrange the triangles into a pointed peak. Use masking tape to secure the peak and folded edge.

Cut a door shape from one side of the box. Just draw a rectangle large enough for your youngster to get in and out of his space ship, round the edges to create an interesting looking door and cut along three sides of the rectangular shape. Use some of the discarded flaps to make three fins for the space ship and secure these with more masking tape.

Trace round window shapes on the sides of the rocket ship using a small plate and then cut out each one -- the more windows you add, the more light that will shine in, making it easier for your kiddo to see what he's doing inside.

Spray the rocket ship with a metallic silver paint outdoors. It's best if your youngster stays indoors while you give the rocket ship a paint job. If you prefer, you can glue aluminum foil over the entire ship instead. That's it -- your young astronaut is ready for his adventures in outer space.

Items you will need

  • Large cardboard box
  • Utility knife
  • Masking tape
  • Small plate
  • Metallic spray paint
  • Aluminum foil (optional)
  • Child-safe glue


  • Creating Clever Castles & Cars; Mari Rutz Mitchell, et al.
  • Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun; Bobbi Conner

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images