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DIY Cardboard Play Shop

This DIY Cardboard play shop has everything kids need to play store in a pretend marketplace! Easy to make with a simple cardboard box!

DIY cardboard play shop

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Inspire Pretend Play with a DIY Cardboard Play Shop

This summer, my kids are all about cardboard crafting! I think this is fantastic! Cardboard makes a fantastic FREE crafting material for all ages!

I’ve made a lot of stuff out of cardboard for my kids over the years! This DIY cardboard space shuttle is my personal favorite.

My son is actually the mastermind behind today’s DIY cardboard creation.

Playing Shops

Summer is the perfect time to play at play shops and pretend towns. Playing at pretend shops develops all sorts of important academic and life skills. You can see several of those life skills in development through the design of this DIY cardboard play shop.

In this particular play shops iteration, all of the kids had pretty similar products. My son realized he needed to up his game, and he came up with this cardboard shop.

DIY Cardboard Store

cardboard pretend store for kids to play

After a few days of playing the pretend shops game, my son realized he needed some fun ways to attract customers. And so this cardboard play shop was born. Johnny came up with a fancy welcome sign and reviews from other customers. Donations helped him break even, since he tends to set his prices lower than is really sustainable.

I didn’t get a photo with inventory on display, but the swing arm extension allows more products to be displayed without owning another box.

Cardboard is at a premium in our house when the kids start crafting. This entire play shop was made out of a single cardboard box. All of the extra pieces you see are made using flaps that were cut off of other parts of the box.

11yo pretend shop out of a cardboard box

He listed both inventory and incentives on the side of his box.

Spend $10 and you get 25% off your next order!

Earn $2.00 for a starred review that will be posted at Johnny’s shop!

The first sign lists his main inventory. Noticing high food sales in other shops, he negotiated with his fellow vendors for the right to sell shaved ice and snack mix.

Play Shop Storage

The front of the shoplifts up to reveal extra supply storage, as well as children and pets (when said children and pets were not at babysitting and pet sitting services run by other children). All of the kids kept dropping off their children and pets and then forgetting about them, much to my amusement. Eventually the baby or pet sitter would come by and say, “Hey, when are your going to pick up your kids/pets?”

Tips for Building with Cardboard Boxes

My kids love building with cardboard boxes! Over the years they have learned when to use scissors and when to cut with knives (after showing me they can handle the knife safely), and when they need to get me for help.

Sharpie pens and packing tape are popular cardboard crafting components. Hot glue guns also see a lot of use (after training, like the knives).

I love that my child can take a cardboard box that I got for free with something that was shipped to the house and build something amazing that they play with for hours. After a while it’s time to move on, so we break down the box and put it into the recycling bin, secure in the knowledge that what was built once can be built again.

Do you and your kids enjoy cardboard crafting? What’s the coolest thing you have made out of cardboard? Please share photos if you make a DIY cardboard play shop like ours!

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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

5 thoughts on “DIY Cardboard Play Shop”

  1. What a great idea to spend time with children! Thank you for making this wonderful content!

  2. My kids don’t really craft a lot with cardboard, but probably because I don’t really craft with cardboard. I find it difficult to craft with, unlike liEr over on IKat blog (probably spelling stuff wrong), I would much rather muck about with fabric.

    I, however, love to see what OTHER people make with cardboard, and super love that.

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