Build a Recycled Box City

What You Need:

  • Several cardboard boxes in various sizes such as cereal or cracker boxes, shoe boxes, jewelry boxes, etc.
  • Large piece of cardboard reused from a moving or appliance box
  • Cardboard paper towel and toilet paper tubes
  • Clear drying, non-toxic glue
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Drawing paper
  • Old newspapers, magazines, and other paper scraps
  • Tempera paints and paint brushes (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Start by creating a city plan. Help your child brainstorm ideas. What type of city is it, and how large will it be? Do they want to create one street, one block, or more? Have them sketch out their ideas.
  2. Once their city is planned out, it's time to play architect. Does your child know what an architect does? Ask them to design their buildings by drawing up blueprints using the drawing paper, pencil, and a ruler. As they draw, talk about form and function and how math factors into building design. If you like, you can even try creating your buildings to scale using the ruler (1 inch could equal 1 foot, for example).
  3. On the large sheet of cardboard, have your child mark where the town's buildings and other features (like streets, trees, parks, etc.) will go.
  4. Now it's time to build. Ask your child to choose boxes that best fit the buildings they want to make. Have them cut out windows and doors and add decorations or signs with pieces of newspaper or magazines. Finish the buildings by painting them with tempera paint (if using).
  5. Add other city features such as bus stops, trees, or street signs using the paper towel tubes and extra pieces of cardboard.
  6. Have your child use markers or paint to draw small details such as lines on the roads or sidewalk seams and any other finishing touches.

Don't worry if you can't finish your city in one day. Work on it with your child over a school break or several weekday afternoons once their homework is finished.

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