A 3D Nature Suncatcher for Kids

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A 3D Nature Suncatcher from a Cardboard Box

Ah, what fun can be had with a box! What beauty can be created with humble corrugated cardboard!

We’ve had the pleasure of participating in TinkerLab’s cardboard box challenge (along with 20 or so other creative bloggers), and this is what we came up with :: A nature suncatcher. A flower petal art box. A flower fairy house. A 3-D stained glass viewer. A nature lamp shade. A shadow box. A firefly lamp? A ? Hmm…

We’re in love with it but are not sure exactly what to call it. Perhaps you can help us name this project?

Here’s how we made this 3-D nature suncatcher as well as some simple flower petal stained glass windows from a simple cardboard box.

A 3D Nature Suncatcher for Kids

A 3D Nature Suncatcher for Kids


  • A cardboard box
  • Transparent contact paper (also called sticky back plastic)
  • Nature items such as flowers, leaves, and ferns
  • Scissors



Step 1: I started with a simple cardboard box. It was relatively small so I taped the flaps up using packaging tape. Then, with an x-acto knife, I cut rectangles out of each side, leaving an inch or two cardboard “frame” around each opening.

CArdboard Box Challenge

Step 2: Then I cut pieces of transparent contact paper to cover each of the framed openings. I applied the contact paper to the inside of box with the sticky side facing out.

Upcycled a cardboard box for art and suncatcher frames

By the way, no cardboard was wasted! The rectangles that I cut out from the box were turned into frames themselves (and contact paper attached) and the centers of those frames were used by Daphne for drawing as I finished the set up. While I did the prep that involved the sharp x-acto knife, the rest of the project was completed by the girls.


Step 3: Maia, her friend Stella, and Daphne all collected flowers, leaves, and ferns from around the garden for the nature suncatchers.

Making Nature Suncatchers with Kids

Step 4: The flowers were dumped in the center of the kitchen table and everyone went to work attaching them to the sticky contact paper on the box and within the frames.

Nature Suncatchers on a Cardboard Box

Maia applied whole flowers, but found that they didn’t stick as well as individual petals.

Flower Suncatchers

Stella used her scissors to cut flower petals and leaves into smaller pieces to apply to her framed triptych.

Flower Suncatchers with Toddlers

Daphne added flower petals then took them back off, added them, took them back off…

Flower Petal Suncatcher

Step 5: Finally, we added another sheet of contact paper over the top of the flower petals and hung the nature suncatchers up to the windows to see the light shine through the colorful and translucent flower petals. Beautiful, eh?

We also looked at our flower box a couple of other ways.


First we replaced a lamp shade with the flower box temporarily to see how it would look with a light source inside. Very cool! It would be fun to rig up something with wire to hold it in place over the lamp more permanently (we were using our hands). Or to use this to create shadows.


We also went outside and looked through the box up at the sun, to see how it would look with the light source on the outside. Also beautiful!


This 3-D nature suncatcher was such a fun project to work on! It’s also rather ephemeral. (Although if you wanted to create a more permanent version, you could press and dry the flowers and leaves first.) Let me know if you try this!

Nature Suncatcher Box

Here the flower box is a house for Maia’s little horse figure.

Okay, now go check out what everyone else did with their cardboard boxes!

Pin It for Later ::

A 3D Nature Suncatcher for Kids Using a Cardboard Box

Making Nature Suncatchers with Cardboard Frames

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  1. says

    WOW! Jean, you girls are SO creative. I love that you used the entire box, that there was a separate age-appropriate activity for Daphne (how thoughtful!), and that Maia’s dress looks like it took inspiration from the project. :) The colors are striking and it looks like so much fun. We will definitely do this one day this summer.Thanks for being part of this project, and for the ongoing inspiration!

  2. says

    Jean this is great!! I would pick up one of those half dome “touch lights” at Walmart (I think you can use them in a closet or as a kid bedside light (just batteries, no cords) to light up your box!! : )

  3. says

    This is SO AMAZING! You always have a great surprise up your sleeves! We just did a couple Contact Paper Nature Collages inspired by you!!! This box tops our idea!
    Thanks for your inspiration as always!!! I look back from a year ago and so many things I have done with my daughter were inspired by you!!! Thanks!!

  4. says

    This is awesome – I would love to make one like this to set out on our preschool playground! You always inspire me:)

  5. Roopa (Putti amma) says

    Absolutely beautiful, like most of your projects !! And its so simple too…Love it, will have to make one with my daughter:)

  6. says

    wow! this is so lovely! i’m always inspired by your use of light with your suncatchers, and this brings that sort of glow into the night! i love how it matches the skirt you and maia made. amazing art, as always! xo & happy mothers’ day weekend to you, jean!

  7. Shelley D says

    So now you have to try this one:
    First you gather the flowers and ferns leaves (they work especially well). Attach individual FLATTENED petals or whole flowers and whole leaves with masking tape to a white or almost white t-shirt. Cover the entire flower/leaf with pieces of masking tape so none is exposed. Then you hammer the entire leaf/flower masking tape shape on a hard surface like your driveway. When you take the tape off, the flower will be history but a permanent implant is on the shirt. Certain flowers work better than others. AND the cool part, it should be permanent…at least the fern leaves are. We have t-shirts we did years ago that still have the fern leaves on them…really big ones. It’s so cool. Works on small pieces of fabric as wellthat we made into a banner. Sorry, I don’t have any pics. Try it!!!

  8. says

    This is simply brilliant! I love the way it can be explored at anytime of the day in any light – just fab! Can’t wait to have a go at creating one soon – thank you.

  9. says

    Jean, this is absolutely gorgeous. One can see the joy on the kids’ faces…
    There’s so much for them here – connection with nature, observation, artful arrangement..
    You are an amazingly creative mamma…

  10. alfarascha says

    Such a great idea!I think this is the type of craft the kids will never forget. I will definitely try it with my kids! thank you!

  11. says

    What an impressive use of a box. I love that none of the cardboard went to waste. Contact paper is one of my favorite materials. I can’t wait to make our own flower box.

  12. says

    How beautiful! I’m curious about how well the contact paper stuck to the box while the flowers were being applied. I imagine frustration happening if it came unstuck…?

  13. says

    What a GREAT project! I think I love your blog even more after this post…and I didn’t think that was possible ;)

  14. says

    Jean, this is beautiful. There are so many wonderful processes here. Just collecting the flowers would have been a wonderful afternoon outdoors and then to make this beautiful box, just perfect.

  15. Marnee says

    Beautiful this is delightful and definatley on my to do list…you are so clever. What lucky girls

  16. says

    Wow! This is really stunning and looks like it was an absolute blast to put together! Thanks so much for the how-to, I’ll be linking.

  17. says

    I LOVE the idea of the cardboard frames! I’ve been looking for a way to let the girls make contact paper art that allows for a more permanent display, and I think this idea is is!

  18. says

    This is such a great idea! I’ll have to try this with my girls. My 2 year old is obsessed with flowers right now, so it would be so much fun.

  19. says

    This is so pretty! I love it and want to try. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Dianna says

    Absolutely awesometastic- my kids will adore doing this (as will I) and it will be a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon together that all can participate in, from the smallest to the tallest, Thank you so much for sharing such a creative and fun idea!