Make: Recycled Cardboard Necklaces for Kids

I don’t know about you, but gray winter days have me longing for a color injection – the brighter the better! These simple but stylin’ cardboard necklaces are the perfect cure for the winter blahs. This is a project that can easily fill an afternoon, provides a great lesson in mark-making & pattern, can be easily adapted for any age, and looks positively divine accessorizing a stylish ensemble! 🙂

A collection of DIY cardboard necklaces made by kids.

At any given time I have scraps or older supplies that need to be used up and these were the perfect solution (for a sweet alternative, see how we recycled old art into these adorable DIY heart pennant pins). You can use just about any drawing or painting medium you want to make patterns for your necklaces. They’re also a great low-mess art exploration for occasions when jumping into a big project that will require a lot of cleanup doesn’t sound appealing.

To make your own modern geometric DIY cardboard necklaces you’ll need:

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • A piece of scrap cardboard
  • Scissors and/or a utility knife
  • Markers, crayons, paints or other supplies to use for mark-making
  • A glue stick
  • Ribbon
  • A long, dull needle (I used big-eye beading needle)

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

  • Beads, pom-poms, or other craft items that might add flair to your necklaces.

Just a reminder, that this step-by-step is meant to be an inspiration as much as instruction. If you end up using other materials or putting your own spin on these, I’d love to see how you put your cardboard necklaces together!

Modern Geometric DIY Cardboard Necklaces:

  1. Cut pieces of scrap cardboard and paper into squares and rectangles

    Cut some pieces of cardboard (I prefer corrugated…you’ll see why at the end) into squares and rectangles. My largest pieces were about 5″x4″ – the larger the better for younger makers!) and I found it most efficient to cut with a utility knife and straight-edge.

    Gather up some scrap paper and supplies to draw or paint with. I have a huge file folder of scrap paper that is constantly filled, but if you don’t hang on to scrap, you can cut small squares or rectangles for your kids to create patterns on. Consider recycling some old book pages, newspaper, newsprint, brown paper bags, or envelopes!

  2. Draw patterns onto your scrap paper pieces

    Time for pattern-making! Lines, dots, squiggles are just the beginning – this is a wonderful way for kids to experiment with different marks, mediums, and color combinations.

  3. Layout some groups of patterned papers

    We made our necklaces by combining different strips of our colored and patterned scrap papers. You may want to take some time to lay different combinations out together and plan how you’d like to build the patterns on your necklaces.

  4. Trim your patterned pieces into strips and glue them to cardboard backs

    Start trimming your patterned scraps into strips to add to your cardboard necklace pieces. Layout your strips and once you’re happy with your pattern, use a glue stick to glue each strip on. You can trim the excess of the sides of your necklaces once all the strips have been added.

  5. Thread a piece of ribbon through the cardboard

    Cut a long strip of ribbon to use as your necklace “chain”. Thread it between the cardboard layers through the corrugation. I used a dull long needle with the thinner strips of cardboard and a big-eye beading needle for the wider pieces. Tie a quick knot at the top and ta-da!
    Thread a piece of ribbon through the cardboard

  6. Tie the ribbon in a knot

    Tie a quick knot at the top, leaving enough space so that you can comfortably fit your head through, and ta-da!

Just like that, your kiddos are ready to rock their own hip, upcycled handmade creations!

A collection of DIY cardboard necklaces made by kids sitting on a white background

More Recycled DIY Jewelry Ideas for Kids

I love good glass beads or fancy baubles for jewelry-making, but a rummage through the recycling bin can provide all the supplies your kids need to make chic statement jewelry! Here are a few of my favorite recycled kids’ jewelry how-tos from friends…

Scrap materials have been the basis for SO many of our projects, and provide a wonderful lesson in eco-friendly art practices for kids. For more recycled art be sure to visit our scrap stamp shape collages, colorful upcycled camp lanterns, or torn paper landscapes.

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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