From Trash to Track: Buy Nothing New for a Year!

Liam with our home-made derby race track.

Keeping two young boys entertained can be a full-time job, especially in the cold, winter months when we have no access to playgrounds. Since we made our resolution, we can’t just go out and buy new toys or crafting supplies, so we’ll just have to make do with what we have on hand. So, I will be writing a post every week or so on free things we’ll be doing with the kids that you can do too! I will admit that I am pretty crafty and creative, thanks to my dear mom, and hours of sewing Barbie clothes and painting seasonal graphics onto t-shirts and towels with Trichem-paints when I was a little girl. But, not everyone is, so keep in mind that anything you make with your kids doesn’t have to be perfect, or even look remotely good. It is all about hanging out together and having fun!

Pinewood Derby track.

Pinewood Derby track.


Today, my oldest son, Liam, and his Cub Scout troop had their Pinewood Derby. The boys spent weeks on carving and sanding down blocks of wood into awesome little hot rods. And, when the race is over, it’s kind of a buzz kill. On the car ride home, Liam asked if we could buy a derby track online so he could race “The Shark” (his derby hot rod) some more. So, my natural response was, “Nope. But, we can build one!”



We built ours out of boxes in a matter of about a half an hour. If your little one is not into racing cars, you can also take this idea and use the same materials to build a temporary doll house, fashion runway, a garage—or use your imagination.



For the race track, you’ll need:

  • Two to three boxes, one large, one medium and a   small box made of thinner cardboard (we used a Poptart box)
  • Boxing tape
  • Scissors
  • Colorful paper and some markers
  • Glue






First, we cut the front of the medium-sized box off, leaving about two or three inches at the bottom. Then, we cut off the top of the box, and we cut out a thin rectangle out of the top back that was the same width as the larger box. This piece will be the support frame. While I did the major cutting, Liam decorated some colorful paper that we glued to the sides of the frame on both sides.






Next, we took the largest box and deconstructed it, laid it out flat, and then taped all of the flaps together.








Then, we just folded the sides with the flaps up and set the bottom of the track into the support frame. For some extra support, we cut strips of cardboard from the small box that we taped across the top of the track at the start and finish lines and one in the middle. Liam finished it off with a “Finish” sign. Of course you can really deck it out with more bells and whistles if you want!



So you have it, a track made from trash! Now, you can purchase an official Boy Scouts of America practice derby track for around $20 brand new, or you can make one for free and spend some time with your kids! It kept Liam busy for an hour and Evan, our two-year-old, for at least half an hour, and I’m sure they’ll revisit it throughout the weekend—until it is quietly reabsorbed by the recycling bin.

Liam with our home-made derby race track.

Liam with our home-made derby race track.


  1. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this! We built one today and the boys love it. Bonus: a use for all those Christmas delivery boxes the kids were hoarding to eventually “do something cool with”.

    • admin says:

      Awesome Lisa! I am so glad that your boys are having fun with it! Ours is still up—right in the middle of the kitchen floor. So be warned, it might not be as easy to quietly put it back into the recycling bin as I thought it would be!

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