Cardboard City

Cardboard City

Project Recycle & Create: Building a Cardboard City

Last month the boys made a wish-list of ideas they wanted to try during the month. One idea was to make a city. Another was to make a tape track. This combination was the start of their invasion of the living room.

The boys have been known to steal from the recycling bin and create some pretty amazing things. Before this project, one of my favorites was defintely the creation Legoman made for Super B. Just for fun I have included the video of their fun.

Using a project based philosophy we set to work to create a Cardboard city complete with tape track roads.

Step One: Plan the Cardboard City

Cardboard City

As with any of the projects we do, we started with our “Brain Map”.

A “Brain Map” is a graphic organizer that is used to help children organize their ideas surrounding a subject. It is easily adaptable to all ages (I used to use this in Preschool).

The boys started by defining what they wanted to create. A City.

Then they asked and answered questions.

What is in a city?

What makes a city work?

What kinds of people are in a city?

What does a city need?

Brain maps provide an educator or caregiver so much insight into what the child knows and understands. Not only does it allow me to see what spelling/word patterns they knw… it also allows me to see how they organized their thoughts. If we were doing this as a unit/project study, I would have them do another brain map at the conclusion to see what they learned.

For the purpose of this experience, we did not do the afterwards assessment ,however the photos document what was learned during this experience.

But what does a city look like?

Where should we put the streets and buildings?

We got out google maps and looked up our city. We played with it for some time, notating the shape of the blocks and the placement of the buildings. We were finally ready to create.

Step Two: Create the Cardboard City

Creating is so much fun for us. We are a family that strives to leave a low footprint, meaning we reuse materials, recycle as much as possible, and even buy minimal products that produce wastes.

We keep a running inventory of boxes, lids, bubble wrap and more at our disposal just for such occasions as this.

So off the boys went to our stash to find suitable buildings for their city.

In order to make the streets, we used painters tape and laid out the blocks. They really wanted to incorporate their wooden car garage, so we made the city around one central block. They chose very specifically where they wanted each type of building.

“We need the hospital here, Mom. It is right by the tower which is in downtown. Most people are in downtown.”

“We need Target near the people’s houses so they can get to the store easily and not have to drive across town.”

“The zoo needs to have enough room and be near parking.”

I simply love hearing what children say as they think things out and problem solve.

 Cardboard City


Our city was complete with a Zoo, The Hospital, Eli’s Cheesecake Factory, a Milky Way CandyShop, several homes, and a Tergit (Target).

Step Three: Play with the Cardboard City

Now for the moment they had waited for. Play time. I wish I could tell you they liked this play scene. But no! No, They LOVED it!.

We had removed the carpet, taken over the living room and created an entire city at their fingertips.

They raced the cars, they parked and went to Target, they visited the zoo and they drove home at the end of the day. Everyone had a blast playing.

Cardboard CityOne of my favorite things was when I noticed an extremely long line of Lego people in front of the cheesecake factory….

” Oh, Mom, those are all the kids and parents from a school waiting to get in. They are on a field trip.”

Cardboard City

Even Super B had fun. (Who for this experience was known as B-zilla… as she was quite destructive to the city)

Who knew so much fun could be had with recycled materials?

Actually, I did and so do several other amazing bloggers. I am thrilled to co-hosting monthly in P is for Preschool’s Project Recycle and Create. Each month the co-hosts listed below will post a project focused around a recycled material. This month was, as I am sure you could tell…

Cardboard Boxes

Each month we will bring you a new material and a new project. Be sure to check out each Co-host as they have each done something very different. You are sure to find some amazing ideas. Every month we will be pinning our projects and our favorites to our Pinterest board.

Project Recycle Create


Want to Join the Fun?

Be sure to follow the creator of this project, P is for Preschool, and many others of the co-hosts to stay updated each month.

P is for Preschooler
Powerful Mothering
Afterschool for Smarty Pants
Still Playing School
Lemon Lime Adventures
Creative World of Varya
Mama Miss
There’s Just One Mommy
Little Bins for Little Hands
Peakle Pie
Sugar Aunts
Teach Me Mommy
Danya Banya

Grab a Box and Create

Make your favorite craft. Give your children a box and see what happens. Recreate your favorite play scene.

You choose.

Then we challenge you to share what you have done with that box. For non-bloggers, feel free to post to Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #createrecycle so we can follow along.

For bloggers, we are offering a link-up.

What have you created using a cardboard box? What is your favorite recycled material to use?

Follow me on FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestInstagram or subscribe by email in the sidebar. I can’t wait to hear your ideas.


Discover how to get siblings to get along even when all they do is annoy each other with the Sibling “Get Along” Poster Pack!

59 thoughts on “Cardboard City”

  1. Nonni and Nonno

    What a wonderful idea. After all, we all have a bountiful amount of Card Board boxes. In our garage alone, they could build 2-3 cities. We are sending out some boxes and then we will teak them all down and take to Recycle Bins.

    We have learned to Recycle because of the teaching of my wonderful daughter and our grandchildren and her past students.

    Now, when we receive our mail and see a multitude of magazines and mail outs; we say, “They killed another tree!”

    So I cannot wait for the finished project. Please remember to build a house for Nonno and Nonni.

  2. Oh fun! My son’s been asking to make a city after we made a really involved one a few months ago. I’ll have to do this with him…he will LOVE it! This series sounds great!

    1. I have seen your city, it seemed like it was loads of fun. You should link it up and any other cardboard project 🙂

  3. I love your city and the fact that you have space to build it! I can see boys spending a lot of time playing with it and sharing this playscape of their own creation.

    1. Thank you. Funny thing is that we actually had to pull up the carpet and move everything to fit this. We had to step over it for days. We really don’t have room for it, we just made room for it. We had friends over and made them step over it too,just to give the boys 1 more day of play

  4. Nonni Nonni

    Very excited about your blog. As your mom, I am so proud. Now you are teaching both Jeff and I ways we can interact with our grandchildren. Just like the project most all of the grandchildren participated in. And during project time, we were able to participate, laugh and enjoy interacting in each child’s invention. And later, they participated in the New Years Eve video. Made for 2 reasons. One, as another great
    New Years Project and the other, was a present of their video, for me, Nonni.

  5. I love seeing the kids thinking, planning, and then making their cardboard city. What a neat process! Thanks so much for sharing and hosting this lovely cardboard party!

    1. Thank you so much. We really had a lot of fun making this city. I can’t wait for next month… Styrofoam. My little guys already have their eye on something exciting

  6. I love that you brain map before the event. (I really should start doing this with JJ. I think it would stop some of the miscommunication tantrums that happen when she thinks I’m directing her play.) And that line at the cheesecake factory is just adorable!

    1. Thank you. I find it really helps keep us on track for what he have in our plans. I mean the occasional sidetrack of jedi’s taking over the city are okay, but not if you never get anything finished that you started. Also, it helps me feel like we are actually learning while playing. The city is long gone now… but I have the webs still taped to the wall and they make me smile every time I see them 🙂

  7. This is so lovely!! I have made a doll house and a play kitchen for my daughter using cardboard boxes. I’ll see if I still have photos of it because the actual items were ruined when the super typhoon hit my country. Thanks for sharing this in the Little Luxuries linky party. Hope to see you again next week! Hugs!

    1. I can’t wait to see those doll houses! Thank you for checking this out. Send me a little reminder. I would love to link up again

  8. I love this!!! We play with cardboard all the time at my house (including this morning!) but we have never planned out a city. Will have to collect some smaller boxes for that project 🙂

    Linked up a couple cardboard projects and pinned this to my cardboard board on Pinterest. Thanks for linking up to the afterschool linky party!

  9. I must make a city from cardboard with my kids. Thank you for the idea!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  10. I love that you included a planning step! 🙂 So important and they are learning that’s it’s part of every project at such a young age.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. One of our biggest goals is to teach them life skills. Guide them and help them learn now what they will need to be successful adults while still getting to be kids.

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  13. What a great activity! I love all the engineering principles involved. I’m featuring it in our ‘How Pretend Play leads to Science Exploration for Discover & Explore this week 🙂

    And I also linked up one of our cardboard creations too – my daughter’s amazing castle.

    1. Thank you so much for the feature. The engineering principles are definitely something we highlight in this house with my oldest especially. He is always tinkering, building and trying to figure things out.

  14. What an amazing idea, and to get them to plan ahead as well – something that my children aren’t so great at. Excellent details in there. We made a cardboard aquarium this weekend, so perhaps we should be doing the city next! Thanks for joining in with the Parenting Pin it Party this week xx

    1. Thank you so much! We had a lot of fun and used cardboard for the rest of the month. Lately we have been creating with styrofoam. Thank you for featuring!

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  38. I think its great you started out planning the city first, instead of going straight into building. This reminds me of being a project engineer, and having a plan before starting the execution of the project was always crucial to the success of the project. Great job mom!

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