Play Scene: Cardboard Box City

carboard box city -- play scene

Well, well! The children and I spent a glorious afternoon creating this cardboard box city.  It cost me all of…nothing, was mess free and is still going strong! There are many inspirational ideas like this around the web, like this one from Picklebums.

Below is how we made our city.


Tea Chest Size packing box larger (the bigger the box, the better!)

(I have many packing boxes around from our last move but you can buy them (cheap) from office works, many real estate agents or packing suppliers)

Packing tape

Drawing materials

Matchbox cars


1. Prepare the box for decoration

carboard box city instructions

2. Draw in roads

I drew in the roads with permanent marker before the kids decorated the box.

cardboard box road city -- draw in roads

3. Decorate

In the spaces in between the roads, draw in details with texters and pencils. Also use the back, verticle side of the box to draw in  buildings, trees or anything else you like.   Each one of my children contributed something.

These are some of the details we added.

  • Homes
  • Bushes
  • Grass
  • Ponds
  • Trees
  • Birds
  • Walking path
  • Bike path
  • Fruit market
  • Car park
  • Farm
  • Flowers
  • Houses
  • Playground
  • Highrise buildings

Vertical Buildings

cardboard road city high rise match box cars

Oval and playground

cardboard box city with roads and matchbox cars

Carpark & fruit market

cardboard box play scene -- roads


cardboard box play scene -- trees and buildings

4. Add Extras

Extra materials (optional)

3D Buildings

empty capsule boxes, for example, the box panadol comes in

– Paint

Street signs

– Milk bottle lids

– Craft glue

– Paddlepop sticks

– Blu-tack


– Cotton wool balls

– glue

Add detail to the creation by adding 3D buildings, clouds and street signs. This doesn’t have to be done in one sitting; create this play scene over days or weeks even.

milk bottle lid street signs

Milk Bottle Lid Signs

  • Draw symbol or words on the inside of the milk bottle lid
  • Glue paddle pop stick on the back of the milk bottle lid
  • Once dry, use blu-tack as a stand on the cardboard road


  • Glue cotton wool in the sky.

3D Buildings

  • Decorate empty capsule boxes (like Nurofen & Panadol)with paint or markers and glue at the back of the box. It’s a good idea to wrap the boxes in brown craft paper (or white paper) before you paint so the paint stands out.

5. Play

Matchbox cars, Lego and animal figures are examples of the toys you can add to this play scene.  The box can be used outside on the grass in the late afternoon, on a patio or deck and inside too.

cardboard box city


Imaginative Play Scenes

Dollhouse Style Box Cubby

You Might Also Like...


Leave a Reply