Paolo’s PaRRRot Costume

I need to brag a little. This amazing costume made with recycled materials was created by my nephew, Marvin, and his brilliant son, Paolo who won Best Costume in the 4th grade! Below is their write up with fantastic photos. I chuckled when I read Marvin, the engineer’s, copy doc. It’s written so thoroughly – like an engineering report. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they managed to make this costume an actual flying machine. Enjoy!

D90_141031_14517 xx


This tutorial covers making a Parrrot Costume out of generally available recycled materials. Last Halloween my son asked me to help him make a costume rather than buying one that was store bought. The costume we came up with was “Steve” from Minecraft®. We made it out of a single box with eye cutouts. We traced a grid pattern on the box and had him color in the “pixels” to match the Minecraft® color palette. This year we got a little more ambitious and decided to do this Parrrot Costume. The original plan is not ours. We took guidance from a Makedo® costume that we found on the Instructables Web Site. That particular set of plans required purchasing a set of tools and plastic rivets to make it; we deviated from that plan by using materials we found at home or discarded at the office. In the end we constructed a costume that represented the three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Hence, a paRRRot.


Materials for this project can be easily sourced from around the home or office.





Recycled Packaging Home or Office Feathers (wings) The more colorful and greater variety the better.
Used File Folders Home or Office Feathers (wings and head dress) Used this in the head dress since it was easier to work with and could easily be curled.
Large Cardboard Box Home, Office, Costco dumpster Wing Base and Head dress base material Any sturdy cardboard box will do.
Plastic Reinforced Tape Home or Garage Construction Otherwise known as “Duct Tape”.
Brass Round Head Fasteners Home, Office or Staples Construction You can also use a stapler for this.
Mr. McGroovey’s Rivets Structural Reinforcement Optional

The rivets are optional, but could add to the life span of the costume. Alternatives to purchasing these rivets are using spare nuts and bolts with cardboard washers to spread the load.

Other items you will need are a utility knife or scissors, a straight edge, powered drill and a stapler.


A Basis for Flight


1. Cut the cardboard box into strips that are about 6 inches wide and a bit bigger than the kid. Cut three strips that are successively smaller than the last. Round the edges to give them a natural curvature.

2. Line up the cardboard slats and attach with tape. Join them at the edges so that the tape itself forms the joint. This will allow for movement in the wings.

Feathering the Bird


1. Trace a rough outline of the feathers into a sturdy material to create a template. A template will create a systematic way of replicating a large number of feathers.

2. Using the template, trace the feathers into a substrate that you plan on using (recycled material or file folders).

3. Using utility scissors, cut the feathers out carefully.

4. For the wings, start at the bottom and work your way to the top. Do a test layout to check the patterns and overall look.

5. Again starting from the bottom, secure the feathers to the wings using duct tape. Place tape on the top surface first to secure the feathers in place, and the flip the feathers up so that you can attach the bottom surface as well.


Hang on Tight

Reinforcement Layout

1. Cut strips of cardboard to form the straps for the hands and shoulders.

2.  Layer duct tape on the straps to reinforce the straps and to make them more comfortable to use.

3. Place the feathered surface of the wings down and have the wearer of the costume lay down on the wings.

4. Measure for the placement of the shoulder and hand straps.

5. Tape the straps to the mounting locations.

6. Use more tape to secure the mounting locations.

7. Cut a cardboard reinforcement plate to place between the shoulder straps to spread the load of the wings.

8. Use more tape to secure the reinforcement plate.

(Optional) Use reinforcement rivets in at the shoulders and straps. Drill the area where they are needed and slide the rivets through to secure them.

Time to crown a recycling king!


1. Cut some 1.5 inch wide strips of cardboard to construct the headpiece.

2. Carefully measure the circumference of the wearer’s head or use their baseball hat as a template.

3. Make a circle with one strip and a ½ circle strip for vertical support.

4. Cut a triangle for the front of the crown.

5.  Figure below indicates the different areas of attachment. During our first attempt we didn’t make the triangle large enough and had to add the support areas after the initial construction. A and B marks the zone of where the feathers will be attached and C will be where the beak will be attached.

6. After thinking about the way we put it together, I would suggest that the beak be enlarged to cover the A and B areas so that the attachment points can be hidden.

7. Wrap the crown area where it will intersect with the head with layers of duct tape. This will reinforce the area, make it more comfortable to wear and make it sweat proof.

Speak of the Beak

Beak Area Layout

1. We used the template for the beak available on the Instructables site.

2. Print the template and trace it onto the substrate. The substrate should be study but thin material. We used a discarded donut box (the wax liner made for rigid yet light material to build with).

3. Cut and fold according to the template.

4. Drill very small holes to the areas that you will attach the small brass round head fasteners. Alternatively you can staple to beak together.

5. Attach the beak to the crown now or later depending on what layer you would like the beak to be. I would suggest moving on to the feathers at this point and saving the beak for last (although this is not the way we did it)

Feathers in your cap


1. Start layering the feathers from the bottom up.

2. Tape the beginning of the feather layer at the bottom and wrap it around the lower crown, secure the end with tape.

3. Drill small holes around the circumference of the crown through the feather layer and the crown substrate.

4. Pierce all the layers with the small brass round head fasteners and secure the layers together.

5. Continue up until you complete the crown.

Finishing touches

1. Drill small holes to attach the beak to the crown substrate.

2. Use the small brass round fasteners to attach the beak.

3. Using your finger tips curl the edges of the file folder feathers to give them a slight curve.

4. Take pictures!


Paolos Parrrot Results




This is a great project that requires very little capital investment. Time and planning is all it really takes, both of which we were in short supply of. We managed to put this all together the weekend before Halloween. After getting everything together we cut out more file folders to layer in between all the feathers that we originally placed. We did this to break up the corporate branding a bit. Kid participation can be as high as you are comfortable with. Ours cut out all the feathers and helped with the measurements. Good luck and happy recycling. Oh and if you plan on writing it up, take pictures along the way, not after the fact like we did. We were after all just winging it.

FrankEGGstein Craft

As you know, we’re all about recycling and repurposing boxes into new toys. Here’s a cuddly version of the ‘grotesque creature’…meet FrankEGGstein! Easy step-by-step directions below:

Box Play FrankEGGstein_1

Supplies needed: egg carton, milk carton caps, green paint & brush, googly eyes, old black sock, scissors, black pen, glue and black spray paint.

Box Play FrankEGGstein_2

Paint egg carton green and milk carton caps black.

Box Play FrankEGGstein_3

Cut old black sock and glue down to make his hair.

Box Play FrankEGGstein_4

Attach googly eyes. Then, with glue (a hot glue gun may work better for a permanent stick) adhere neck bolts to the side of the egg carton. Final step, draw in mouth.

Happy Halloween!

Box Play DIY FrankEGGstein


Spooky Spider Craft

Halloween is just around the corner! We can’t wait to carve into our pumpkins and decorate the house, inside and out. Here is an easy, spooktacular craft you can do with the kids to get everyone into the Halloween spirit.

Supplies needed: black rocks, black pipe cleaners, metallic marker and black tape

Box Play for Kids Spooky Spider Craft

Twist 4 pipe cleaners together to make legs.

Box Play for Kids Spooky Spider Craft

Take a black rock (we had some left over from a floral arrangement…gotta love repurposing things) and use black tape to secure the pipe cleaners under the rock. Bend pipe cleaners as needed to create spider legs.Box Play for Kids Spooky Spider CraftDraw in eyes and mouth with metallic pen. Be creative and have fun making silly or scary faces!

Box Play for Kids Spooky Spider Craft

Simple. Spooky. Spiders.

Box Play for Kids Spooky Spider Craft

These little critters are so cute I might keep them all year round as paperweights. Right?!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Party

It’s time to celebrate National Piano Month with our very own Piano stickers (which also happen to be one of our most popular styles).

As we were prepping for the photo shoot, our 5-year-old had the best idea…”Why not paint the egg cartons black so they look like real pianos, Mommy?” Brilliant!  So the first thing we did was paint 10 recycled egg cartons black, then we applied our Piano stickers. Wow, what a difference…our pianos really popped!Box Play for Kids Piano PartyWe printed 10 copies of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on aged paper then rolled up each music sheet and tied them with a gold string. We found wooden stars at the craft store and painted them a metallic gold. And added some colorful, festive balloons to match the music notes.

Box Play for Kids Piano PartyBox Play for Kids Piano PartyWe then created Mozart face masks. We assumed Mozart was the composer of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. But after a little bit of research, discovered he did not actually compose the famous tune. It’s an old French melody titled “Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman” (“Shall I tell you, Mother?”) However, at age 25, Mozart did compose a set of 12 improvisations on “Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman.” The kids loved the masks so we kept them in the mix anyway.

Box Play for Kids Piano Party
As always, it’s not a party without great (classical) music and yummy treats. We continued with the black and white theme and had our local bakery make these star cookies.

Box Play for Kids Piano PartyGoodie boxes to entertain, teach and enrich kids’ lives with music. This article from She Knows shares 10 Ways Music Benefits Children. Definitely worth a read.

Box Play for Kids Piano PartyMusical genius in the making! Twinkle twinkle little star…

Box Play for Kids Piano PartyHere’s a recap of our Piano Party for little ones.

Box Play for Kids Piano Party Ideas

eco-friendly stickers

Now Boarding: Aviation Themed Kids Party

National Aviation Day is a week away, so we put together these aviation party ideas to guarantee “frequent flier smiles”.

Box Play for Kids Aviation Party Pack

The Decór
We simplified our center table decór by limiting our color palette to red, white and blue pulled from our Airplane stickers. Instead of a traditional table, we used our vintage trunk to give the party a cool retro vibe. The globe gives you a dominant blue, while the adorable miniature stacked suitcases give you a bold pop of red.

Party Activities
It’s always a great idea to have a few fun party activities to keep the kids busy and entertained. Why not encourage their sense of adventure and creativity by repurposing toilet paper rolls into DIY airplanes. (Be sure adults are around during the craft to assist the kids with creating two slits for the popsicle stick.) And for more fun, we picked up some blank passport books and customized them for the party – rubber stamps and all!

Box Play for Kids Aviation Party Pack 18Box Play for Kids Aviation Party Stickers

Box Play for Kids Aviation Party Pack 19

Box Play for Kids Aviation Party Pack 20Box Play for Kids Aviation Party Pack 8

Box Play for Kids Aviation Party Pack 17

Yummy Treats
The red & white straws and our sky blue plates are by Susty Party. They’re colorful and compostable. We added blue star stickers to the straws to tie into our theme. Sip in style!

Box Play for Kids Aviation Party Pack 16

After a day of activities, the kids will get a kick out of these crafty airplane treats. (As if kids needed one more reason to love an ice cream sandwich.) These were a huge hit at our home – 5 year old approved! You’ll love it because they’re inexpensive and easy peasy.BPFK Airplane Ice Cream Sandwich

Here’s a recap of all the ideas. Happy birthday adventures!

BPFK Aviation Party 2014For more creative party ideas click here.


2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards Finalist

Hooray! The judges have named Janette Harwell, founder of Box Play for Kids, as a 2014 @AmericanMadeMSL Awards finalist. Support and share our work to get involved! #celebratethemaker

Click on badge below for link:

About American Made:
American Made spotlights the maker, supports the local, and celebrates the handmade. The program is made up of people and communities that have turned their passion for quality craftsmanship and well-designed goods into a way of life.

“We believe we are in the midst of a shift in our culture where creative entrepreneurs are defining a new American economy.”


Summer Poetry for Kids

We just returned from a week long vacation in California. The ocean is so therapeutic, not to mention a whole lot of fun for the entire family!  I came across this great post by Playful Learning on Summer Acrostic Poetry.  It was the perfect creative activity to do with our daughter after a long, hard day at the beach :-) . It captured some very sweet moments we won’t forget.

Box Play Summer Acrostic PoetryBox Play CA Summer

We also never travel without our little friend Oscar the Octopus. TP rolls are available in every hotel, vacation home and camp site!

Hope you’re enjoying your summer. xo