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Make an Old Shoebox Into a Cardboard Typewriter for Your Pretend Office

Got an old shoebox? You're halfway to a cardboard typewriter you can (pretend to) write the next great American novel with.

Camp + Project Kid by Amanda Kingloff


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

Kids may not know what a typewriter is exactly, although they've probably heard tell of the contraption referred to as "Grandpa's laptop." But just because the typewriter is a bit old-fashioned doesn’t mean it’s not a fun tech relic to DIY!

With this craft, kids can design their own keyboard (go ahead and add emojis!) and make a fun, imaginative play toy for their pretend office. With this cute, upcycled typewriter, their play-WFH setup is complete!

What You’ll Need

  • Shoebox (big kid size or larger)

  • Scissors

  • Ruler

  • Duct tape

  • 2 bendy straws

  • 1 wooden skewer

  • Cardboard tube (paper towel or wrapping paper)

  • 2 matching jar lids

  • Black paint and paintbrush

  • Tacky glue

  • Glue stick

  • Keyboard template (find one online, or download a printable pdf here)

  • Cereal box 

  • Mounting squares

  • Black plastic lid 

  • Cotton swabs

How to Make It

1. Cut the bottom half of the shoebox on a diagonal, in order to create the angled face of your typewriter. Measure 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the bottom of the box and make a mark on the two front corners. Connect these points by drawing a line across the front, and also draw lines up the side diagonally to the top edge.


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

2. Cut the box along these lines, and cut off the rim of the box lid. Save the extra cardboard for Step 5.


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

3. Fold the top of the box lid down and tape it on the three open sides. (If your shoebox is not the hinged type with a flap lid that opens up, cut off the edges of the shoebox lid and tape it to the base on all four sides.)


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

4. Completely cover the box with colored duct tape or a strong, colored masking tape. You may need to apply multiple layers to cover up any logos or printing on the box.


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

5. Using the extra cardboard from step 2, cut two rectangles that are 1 1/2 inches tall by 4 inches across.

Starting from the center of the longer (4-inch) side of each of the cardboard rectangles, cut a semi-circle that fits the cardboard tube.


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

6. Cover both cardboard pieces with colored duct tape, then tape them to the top sides of the box. Trim the corners to follow the sloped line of the box.


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

7. Paint cardboard tube black; let dry.


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

8. Break or cut the wooden skewer to match the width of the box. Bend your straws and trim the long ends to the length of the skewer; slip them over the skewer. Tape the short ends of the straws to the top corners of the shoebox typewriter. 


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

9. Glue the jar lids to the ends of the painted cardboard tube; let dry.


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

10. Print out the keyboard template and use a glue stick to attach to the inside of a cereal box. (Choose your own favorite punctuation marks and emojis!)


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

10. Cut out the keys and adhere them to the typewriter box using cut mounting squares. 


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

12. Cut a plastic lid (we used a tennis ball can lid) in half and glue one piece to the center of the typewriter along the top edge. (Save the other half for another project!)


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

13. Break Q-tips in half and dip the ends in black paint. Let them dry on wax paper. Glue them around the rim of the plastic lid from step 12. 


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid

Your shoebox typewriter is now assembled! Use it to type up (pretend) letters, write (imaginary) short stories, or do lots of important (fake) work.


Amanda Kingloff | Project Kid