Cardboard Tinkering Toy Series: Egg Carton Gondola


As Christmas marketing campaigns and expensive toy lists begin appearing on the internet, I wanted to start this series to remind parents and gift givers everywhere about  simple, low cost, recycled toys that kids will wrench out of your hands and say, “Let me try!”

In case you haven’t heard about the creativity crisis that’s being heralded by lots of important people, I just want to leave you with this simple thought. As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. They are constantly watching you to find out what you think, what you like to do, and how you handle a challenge. While we don’t need to teach our children how to play, we do need to positively model for them the joy of learning, experimenting, creating and doing.

How do you do that? You can let your child see you make things, solve problems, fix what’s broken….. be resourceful. There are a million ways to do it, but if you want a place to start, here’s one:

To make an egg carton gondola:

1. Use the nail clippers to cut notches on both sides of the spindles in the middle of the egg carton. Measure down about 1 cm to 1 inch to make the cuts.

2. Cut a slit down the entire length of the tube. You will need a tube thicker than a standard paper towel tube. A tube that has three or four layers makes a gondola that’s quite strong and will hold up to lots of play.

3. Slide the tube unto the egg carton where you’ve made the notches so that the tube grips the egg carton when you put gentle pressure on it.

4. Puncture a hole in one end of the tube and tie a long string or piece of yarn to the gondola for moving it back and forth.

5. Thread an even longer second string through the tube for the gondola to travel on. Anchor this string in two places with a slight decline so that gravity will help the gondola to travel on its own.

And one more thing. I’m challenging everyone who reads this blog to make a handmade toy for a child they love for Christmas. It’s not an official challenge as I don’t have the energy for another one after the Cardboard Costume Challenge, but I just want to give you permission to make something quick and homey, and even ugly, that you can play with together on Christmas day. I promise your child will never forget it.

5 thoughts on “Cardboard Tinkering Toy Series: Egg Carton Gondola

  1. I don’t have any plans right now to make a toy for Christmas, I applaud you for challenging us to do so. I have made each child a scarf and an ornament for their tree. The gifts I will be giving are more of creativity than anything else. Craft supplies such as markers, paints, wooden toys to assemble and paint and the like. A few board games for quiet time as a family.

    As an aside, my grandson wanted a car garage built after I made a small doll bed out of a soap box for his sister. He found a box, brought it to me and we pulled out fabric, tape, markers and the like. It’s his favorite toy.

    • Lois,

      You are a true inspiration! I love your attitude towards Christmas and how you celebrate. I agree with you that a toy isn’t always the best gift. Tools, materials, and games are also great ideas, and there are often things that kids truly need, like new backpacks, shoes, etc. I’m just hoping to get people thinking that they don’t have to succumb to the Black Friday Madness.

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