What I’ve Learned from Cardboard Challenge 2014 So Far

I teach elementary GT students.  Last year, all of my students from 2nd-5th participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge.  This year, I wanted to invite some other students to participate in this and some other “maker” activities, so two wonderful teachers joined with me to co-sponsor a Maker Club that meets once a week.  (You can read more about the Maker Club here, and see a recent school blog post about it here.)

Between Maker Club and my GT classes, we’ve been working on the Cardboard Challenge every day.  It’s been quite a learning experience for me, as well as the students!  Here are some things that I’ve figured out since we began this year’s project:

  • I now know how to use a hand saw.  I don’t know if that’s what they are called, but I’m going to call it that because I used the power of my hand and quite a few muscles in my right arm to saw through some dowels for a foosball table.  Up until this week, the most complicated tool I’ve ever used was an electric screwdriver.
  • Kids are ten times more creative than I am.  Actually, this shouldn’t be new to me.  But I am still consistently amazed by the unbelievable ideas they can come up with.  I mean, who thinks of using a creased piece of cardboard as a launcher for a c.d. decorated with Pokemon characters or sitting inside a giant box so people can drop in a fish hook and you can stick a fortune on the end for them?
  • If you are going to use Hello Kitty duct tape, then you need to have a toilet paper Minion somewhere on your project.  “Because not everyone likes Hello Kitty.”  Sage words.


  • Crunched up styrofoam peanuts stick to everything and will never ever ever disappear completely from your classroom.  Trying to sweep them just makes things worse.


  • It’s important to put signs on your game warning people not to eat the marbles.  Oh, and make sure you mention the “Deth hole AHED” while you’re at it.


  • Whoever designed the first foosball table and made it work was a genius.  It might look simple but it’s definitely harder to make than it is to play.  Unless you don’t make it right.  Then the ball just sits there.  Unless you pick the table up off the floor – which you can totally do when it is made of cardboard.
  • Even when you offer to cut something thick with box cutters for them, 90% of the children surveyed would prefer to hack through something themselves with safety cutters or plastic saws, despite the fact that they will still be there at midnight hacking away.

And, lastly…

  • You can have fun even if you don’t win anything.


6 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned from Cardboard Challenge 2014 So Far”

  1. I am trying a Cardboard Challenge for our 1/2 day before Thanksgiving. The kids are very excited and the cardboard is piling up! Hopefully, this will become one of my tried and true projects also.

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