1. Source some cardboard. The shields themselves should be made from sturdy cardboard, ideally corrugated or similar. The band in the back should be made from thin, bendy cardboard.
We obtained the cardboard used to make our shields (as well as our big box castle!) from the food pantry where we volunteer, and used old cardboard record album covers for the bands. If you don’t have a handy source for obtaining cardboard, check out Freecycle or your local recycling center.
2. Cut out the shields. Fortunately, shields have a very simple form–for inspiration, do a Google Image search and choose your favorite type. If you’re just making one or two shields, you can freehand your shield’s shape directly onto the cardboard, but if you’re making enough shields to supply a birthday party full of little knights, you may want to draw and cut out a template to trace.
Cut out the shields using a box knife.
3. Add a band to the back. Cut a rectangle out of the thin, bendy cardboard that’s approximately 2″ wide and 1.5 times the width of the shield. Staple it to the back of the shield, and your knight will have something to hold onto!
4. Paint and decorate. To turn shield decorating into a party activity, I set out the finished cardboard shields and a large set of tempera paint, BioColor paint, and paintbrushes. As kids arrived, they were invited to paint their shield, have my partner make them a balloon sword, help paint the giant cardboard castle, or just play. Every kid opted to paint a shield first thing.
Fortunately, the morning was warm and sunny, so as the kids finished their shields, I set them to dry on the grass, and it didn’t take long for their owners to recollect them and add them into their play.
To make this an even more eco-friendly project, opt for DIY cardboard swords as well as shields–although you can’t whack a kid across the head with a cardboard sword quite like you can with a balloon sword, it will make for far fewer little balloon pieces to pick up and throw away afterwards.