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How to Build a Recycled Box City

2013-07-15 by Melissa Lennig

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This recycled box city craft is provided for our Summer Fun calendar from guest blogger Melissa of Fireflies and Mud Pies.

Does your child love cars, parking garages, crafts, and cardboard? If your answer is yes, than consider spending time together on a cozy afternoon to build a Recycled Box City!

box city craft

We created our Recycled Box City with a combination of cereal boxes, shipping boxes, shoe boxes, and cardboard tubes. I arranged glossy acrylic paints in a basket and invited the boys to choose a color. They suddenly became very focused and quiet as they used sponge brushes to paint their boxes with long, smooth strokes.

boys playing

While they painted, I created colorful embellishments with hot glue and craft foam for their boxes. Several hours later, the boxes were dry and the boys were able to choose from a whimsical selection of doors, windows, trees, and plants that would turn their plain box into a bright city building. They had no problem sticking everything to their box with rolled masking tape, but I did reinforce it all with hot glue – just in case!

And then we played!

craft idea

They drove their wooden cars to and from the parking garage to the city buildings, and I couldn’t help but giggle as I overheard snippets of their play:

boy playing

“Oh no! The parking garage guy says that it costs one billion dollars to park here. Too bad! I left my wallet at home. Be right back!”

“I go in my house. I go out of my house. I go up the elevator. It’s stuck! Call the police!”

“I am a flying car! Watch me gooooo!”


Imaginative play, the honest work of children, helps little ones make sense of the large world they live in. You might notice your child recreating scenes from their day, or imitating something that you said. Manipulating art materials strengthens fine motor and problem solving skills and builds creative thinking. But more than that, imaginative play is fun!

And to quote Dr. Suess, “Fun is good!”

What crafts have you created using recycled materials? Share with us in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook!


Melissa Lennig

Melissa Lennig is the author of Fireflies and Mud Pies, a children’s activity blog that inspires childhood through imagination, art, and nature. Connect with Melissa through Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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