DIY: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair

DIY Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Secret Sewer Lair, made with cardboard boxes and a little kid ingenuity!

How to Make a Home for Ninja Turtles

My son is a huge ninja turtle fan, and he wanted a secret sewer lair of his own to play with. Unfortunately, the store bought version was kind of pricey and didn’t seem too sturdy.

This kid is a true cardboard engineer, and he has a ton of ingenuity! So, he decided to make himself a bigger (and better) version, practically for free! He found some things around the house to adapt for his project, and we visited the dollar store for tape.


Start with recycled cardboard, a kid’s imagination, and lots and lots of duct tape.



Add ingenuity and persistence

(and lots and lots of tape)

The turtles have a place to work out, a place to lounge and eat pizza, a place to skate, and a place to sleep…




What more could a ninja turtle need?

(Maybe more tape.)


STEM learning!

Our cardboard engineer came up with the design and ideas for building materials. With the exception of purchasing some duct tape, everything he used in the construction of the lair is recycled cardboard and other items he scavenged.

The lair is huge and takes up a large portion of our schoolroom, but as a work in progress, it’s been fun to see how it evolves each week as he uses trial and error to make improvements.

The biggest challenge has been to make the walls stable, but to leave the front wide open to have room to play. That’s where all the duct tape has been handy, but our son has also changed the design of the framework to add stability to the walls. It is holding up well, and it even survives our cats’ curiosity.

A plus to all the playtime he’s gotten from his creation is that he’s learned a lot about the scientific method without realizing it!


Toilet paper and paper towel rolls are too flimsy when floor levels are added, and several of them bent under the weight. We found that the empty rolls from aluminum foil and plastic wrap are much sturdier. My son has also tried stuffing the inside of the paper towel rolls with balls of paper to add some strength.

We’ve learned not to throw away and “good” stuff without checking to see if it would make effective building material. For example, he made theย hammock from a mesh produce bag, and some of the support beams are leftover pieces of foam pipe insulation he scavenged from his dad’s workshop.

DIY Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Secret Sewer Lair, made with cardboard boxes and a little kid ingenuity!

{Update: ย Click here toย see the progress since this post}

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Comments (12)

  1. Joy

    Now that is an amazing imagination! Love it!

  2. Anonymous

    Great job! Where did you find a tire for the swing?

  3. learning table

    He used a tire from a lego set for the tire swing. He’s actually added on to the whole thing since this post. I’ll publish an update soon!

  4. Wendi

    My son was wondering if he had added any more to it. ๐Ÿ™‚ He is trying to make his own secret lair ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. learning table

    Yes, Wendi. My house is like a cardboard storage yard! I’ll post pics next week of his new “wing” on the side, and some updates he’s done to the rest. Thanks for the comment–it will make his day! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Anonymous

    OMG!!!! I love this! I have been trying to make my own turtle lair and it has been an epic fail. This is awesome! Thanks for posting this. It has given me alot of ideas!!!! I never thought to connect stuff. I was building everything seperatly. Good job! Thanks again for the ideas! Cant wait to get started on mine!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Chiara

    Awesome! I create homemade toys myself, so I know what I’m talking about. Great job! I was thinking about building the turtle lair for my son and you gave me a lot of ideas ๐Ÿ™‚ This is far better than the one on sale. Thanks for sharing. Chiara, from Italy

  8. Fean

    Holy Macaroni this looks cool!

    I’m currently creating a TMNT “playing table” for my son and your creation gives a lot of ideas for me.

    4/5 ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Anne Campbell

    Thank you all for your enthusiasm! My son is thrilled that you like his creation!

  10. Janice Trinh

    Holy moly!!! This is the best lair I’ve ever seen! How old is your son again??? I want that lair for my TMNT!!!! Looking at this makes me want to go make my own!

  11. katerina

    i wish my 4.5yo could come and hang out at your place! is it still there?

    1. Anne Campbell (Post author)

      Yes–and the cardboard box addiction continues… ๐Ÿ™‚


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