Indoor fun: making a cardboard city

In the short time we’ve been living in Ireland we have experienced different climatic events: hurricane ‘Ophelia’, ‘Emma’ the beast from the east and uncountable rainy days. Weather is not the issue, the actual problem is entertaining two creative and energetic little creatures girls.

This cardboard city was the first, but not the last city we built. It was such a fun and easy project to do with them. I loved how making this city got to be so entertaining and educational.


It gave us an opportunity to talk about maps, city structure, road safety, pedestrian crossings, etc.  As we started designing the city, they started asking for different elements such us roundabouts, pedestrian crossings and traffic lights. They asked for a parking and a supermarket. apparently somewhere over there there is a school and a hospital but I can’t remember which is which.

My eldest, Manuela, took every little detail as a personal challenge and spent hours working and preparing her city; whereas the youngest, Maite, earned a new nickname after a few minutes of play  “Maitezilla“… its not difficult to guess why. Well deserved name, believe me.

So, to start this city I was very glad to have kept some big cardboards from IKEA furniture in the shed. We used very common materials that are easily found in every house with children, of course, don’t think any of my childless friends has crayons.


  • big cardboard
  • crayons or markers.
  • short pencils
  • corks
  • sticky tape.

How to make the city

Well, there is no right or wrong here. My approach was to ask them what they liked about our city and what things they notice while we drive around.

To decide the width of the road I just go one of their cars and made it wide enough for them to fit in.


For the traffic lights I basically cut off some cardboard rectangles, drew 3 circles in and let Manuela to do the rest. She loved the challenge. We used some sticky tape to stick the rectangle to the pencil and we pushed the pencil (tip down) into half a piece of cork. This way it could stand easily and change position as they needed, you’ll be surprised to see how many times traffic lights need to change their spot 😛

cardboard traffic liht

One more tip…

Take this time to talk about the importance of traffic lights, pedestrian crossings. Waiting for the “green little man” to cross the street. We even discussed how cars need to give way in the roundabouts to avoid accidents. It was a great learning experience.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure that hey’ll play with the city after that day, but I was wrong. they kept it and played for hours and days to come. we’ve made some more, but none had as much detail and love as our first cardboard city. For the next one, I want to go 3D and stick some boxes as buildings, I promise to show you how it goes!







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