Make: Build-A-Jack-O-Lantern Cardboard Pumpkins

Five little pumpkins! With a little October magic (and a few well-placed velcro dots) you can turn simple cardboard pumpkins into an entertaining set of mini jack-o-lanterns that your little ones can design, take apart, then rebuild over and over again.

Our painted cardboard pumpkins sitting next to cut out jack-o-lantern features

For another upcycled jack-o-lantern craft, use a leftover box to make our DIY 3D cardboard jack-o-lantern shape sorter!

To make your own build-a-jack-o-lantern cardboard pumpkins you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*


  • 2-5 Cereal box sides, heavy cardstock, or copy paper sheets
  • Scissors (I prefer this kind for cutting cardboard)
  • Orange acrylic or tempera paint and a foam brush
  • Velcro dots
  • Hot glue gun or craft glue (I like using this adjustable temp glue gun with kids)


Build-Your-Own-Jack-O-Lantern Cardboard Pumpkin Instructions:

  1. Sketch or download & print pumpkins and features

    For your jack-o-lantern features: Print out the desired feature pages onto heavy cardstock or cereal box sides that have been trimmed to fit your printer (you may want to run a test print through first to make sure your printer can handle the thickness of the box).
    A preview of our printable Jack-o-lantern activity template pack
    For your pumpkins: We printed our 2 large pumpkin template pages on copy paper, then traced the shapes onto squares of scrap cardboard.

    You don’t have to print our templates – drawing imaginative jack-o-lantern features is a great creative exercise for kids all on its own! Sketch out your features and pumpkins onto cereal boxes or scrap cardboard and color or paint.

  2. Cut out your pumpkins and features

    Choose which features you might like to put on your pumpkins and cut them all out. The more you cut out, the more faces you’ll be able to make!
    Recycle cereal boxes into a build-your-own-jack-o-lantern Halloween game for kids!

  3. Color or paint your pumpkins and features

    Use scissors to cut out all of your features and pumpkins, then paint or color any way you’d like. Give ample time to dry if necessary.
    Recycle cereal boxes into a build-your-own-jack-o-lantern Halloween game for kids!

  4. Add velcro dots to your pumpkins and features

    We added small velcro dots to our pumpkins and features so we could design jack-o-lantern, mix-and-match pieces, and then use them for play. If you’re making these for younger kids, they add a nice sensory/fine motor skill development element as well!
    Recycle cereal boxes into a build-your-own-jack-o-lantern Halloween game for kids!
    You can use adhesive velcro dots, but we found that ours needed just the tiniest dab of hot glue to permanently adhere to the cardboard (especially the smaller elements).

  5. Design and play!

    That’s all there is to it! You can cut out as many pieces or pumpkin shapes as you like to build your own adorable jack-o-lanterns over and over again!
    Recycle cereal boxes into a build-your-own-jack-o-lantern Halloween game for kids!

For a few more seasonal “build-your-own” crafts, be sure to visit our build-a-felt-turkey DIY  and felt fall rainbow tree tutorial.

Our painted cardboard pumpkins decorated with cut-out jack-o-lantern features

Here for the boos? We have Halloween covered with this adorable free printable Halloween doodle book, some super hip upcycled costume ideas, a roundup of our fav modern no-carve pumpkins, and even a recipe (and ghost stickers!) for healthy homemade Ecto-Cooler!

A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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