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Simple cardboard play house

A simple DIY cardboard play house that children can decorate themselves.

painting the house

Emma and Johnny wanted a house to play with their little animals in, so I took a cardboard box, cut off the corners of the end flaps, and taped the longer flaps to the now-diagonal end flaps to create a house shape (with an opening in the roof, for easier access for play). Then we I cut a door and windows and they took it outside to paint.

Here’s Emma’s side:

Emma's side
And here’s Johnny’s side, which is less bright primarily because Emma gave him the paints she watered down too much the other day. I would have made her share the non-watered-down paints, but these were the colors he wanted, anyway… I do like the way he used tape to make a partial windowpane:

Johnny's side

It’s nothing fancy, but Emma and Johnny had a BLAST with this – and so did their friends who came to play Saturday morning! At one point they had sticks across the opening in the roof, and then pieces of grass they had picked – almost like a thatched roof!

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

23 thoughts on “Simple cardboard play house”

  1. It’s a very cute house, and it proves how little is needed to spark kids’ imagination. Emma sounds like a thoughtful big sister ;)
    .-= Natalie´s last blog ..What My Child Is Reading – September 11- 2010 =-.

  2. Yet another great use of cardboard! I think of you whenever I put any in the recycling bin… “I’m sure MaryAnne would think of something clever to do with this…”
    .-= Elisa | blissfulE´s last blog ..Vi’s spring collection =-.

  3. @Maria – thank you!

    @Elisa – and I am sure your house is MUCH tidier than mine ;)

    @Jen – thanks =)

    @Natalie – I know, such empathy…

    @Quadmama – Yes, this is much more practical!

    @Christy – thanks =)

  4. I have to be honest, I never thought of using a small cardboard box for a house! Whenever my kiddos ask for something they don’t have I always end up thinking more elaborately! Love the simplicity! I’ll have to think that way more often!

  5. I had never thought about cutting the corners off to make a roof! So simple and so effective!

    And, simple toys always seem to be the favourites and the best :)

  6. Great idea! I have a few cardboard boxes here screaming for an idea. :) thanks!
    .-= adrienne´s last blog ..Thats My Best Friend =-.

  7. Christie - Childhood 101

    Like amandab, I never thought to cut the corners off to fashion the roof like that, what a great idea. We have a much less interesting cardboard house on the go at the moment, which may just need a revamp in the morning :)

    Thanks for linking to We Play.
    .-= Christie – Childhood 101´s last blog ..Stop- Merge Left- Give Way- On the Road to Reading =-.

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