Create an Adding Machine Repurposing Old Cardboard Boxes

Say it Rah-shay By Mar 06, 2014 27 Comments

Once a month my library hosts math or science themed storytimes and this week we are warming up the Math Lab for some fun with numbers. I combed through my Pinterest boards and decided to tackle a pin for an Addition and Counting Machine from the blog The Imagination Tree.

  • Old cardboard box
  • Paper towel tubes
  • Construction paper/ cardstock in various colors
  • Sharpie
  • tape/glue sticks
  • pom-poms
  • box cutter
  • scissors
  • numbers (can print or write your own)


Create the machine
  • Take the box and using the box cutter, cut one side of the box off. Use the construction paper to wrap the sides of the box.
  • With the box cutter, cut two holes in the top of the box to insert the tubes. (As seen in the pictures I had cut holes before covering the box but was not happy with the placement. After wrapping the box I cut holes in the top.)
  • Cover the box with numbers (I printed mine but you can use stickers, hand write numbers or whatever your fancy)




Create the tubes
  • Use construction paper to cover each tube
  • Using the scissors, cut a “V” shape at the end of the tube to help funnel the pom-poms when they are inserted into the tubes. (My tubes are a bit ajar in the box. If I made this box again I would cut smaller holes to insert them into.)
Create the numbers which will go over the tube
  • Using the scissors, cute pieces of cardstock into a ten strips. (I like cardstock better than construction paper; it’s a bit sturdier.)
  • Use a glue stick to secure the ends of the strips together.
  • On each strip, write numbers from 0-9 

Gather pom-poms


I used the instructions from The Imagination Soup for my machine so that families can play together when I am not around. After use in storytime this will be a new station available for people to use at anytime during their visits to the library.





So. What did you think of the adding and counting machine? What ways would you use this?
Tell me in the comments!
Thank you for reading this Craft Month post and stay tuned for more.


March is National Craft Month. Join me and fellow blogger friends for craft ideas and creative fun.

march craft month



I am mom, daughter, sister, yarn lover, word lover, crazy cat lady and library chick. Find me with book or with hook and a hot cuppa.


  1. What a great idea! My little man needs a little help in math, so maybe I will make him one of these so he can practice.

  2. Terry says:

    What a great way to use things that would normally be thrown in the garbage. My Grandson loves doing crafts and I like making an adding machine that will help him with his math.

  3. Totally did not know that it was CRAFT MONTH! Love the idea!

  4. Very cool. My son it way to young for this but I love re-purposing diaper boxes to do fun things like this with.

  5. Ashley B. says:

    This is such a great idea! And I love that you recycled a bunch of stuff to make this!

  6. That is such a cute and easy idea. I just moved so I have plenty of boxes and we just uncovered our crafting pompoms yesterday – yeah a break from unpacking that will be fun.

  7. Moms at Home says:

    This is such a clever idea! I love re-purposing things for fun projects and especially love that this is educational! My second grader and I will be putting this on our to-do list! Thanks!

  8. Arica Aylesworth says:

    What a cool idea! I love creative ways to teach counting. I also like that it is designed very colorfully.

  9. Beth says:

    This is SUCH a cute idea! I know so many moms who would love something like this.

  10. Ashley Gill says:

    March is National Craft Month? I had no idea!! I love this little machine. Its a cute way to incorporate learning!

  11. Rosey says:

    What a fun idea. And the kids could help with this one too!

  12. Lawna says:

    What a fantastic idea. My youngest sons would really enjoy this.

  13. Emily says:

    How fun and crafty! I love repurposing items – especially when I can make it into something fun for my son.

  14. Pam W says:

    This is so cool! I didn’t know that it was national craft month.

  15. This is a cute project. It's perfect for a young child and I can see where it would make learning and math more fun for a child who may be struggling. It's important to get children to want to learn and this seems like it just might do the trick.

  16. Sarah Bailey says:

    What a great idea – I really wish I could get my craft on more – I used to love making things. x

  17. This is a great craft idea to teach math to students. I wish I was crafty like that.

  18. This is cute and very artistic! <3 I remember I used to like making these things before too.

  19. Melanie says:

    Cute! I love it, and I have no idea March was craft month! Thanks for the others listed too

  20. Amber Nelson says:

    What a cute idea. I love it, looks great!

  21. April says:

    What a cool and fun way for kids to have fun learning math! My girls learned best by doing activities rather than just being told what to learn.

  22. Valerie Gray says:

    Very cute. It looks like a great project for small children learning math skills.

  23. Tess says:

    That looks really fun for little kids. And its great that its a learning thing too.

  24. Nicole Haas Etolen says:

    That is such a cute idea! I love turning old cardboard boxes into something fun.

  25. I just love clever crafty ideas like the ones you have featured here today

  26. Mel Cole says:

    I like your Math box craft. This is perfect for my 4 year old who learning addition right now.

  27. Le-an Lacaba says:

    This would be great for my little cousin. She’s just learning her numbers, and I’d love to make this for her.

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