The joy in this part of the activity is creating, sharing and participating in a make-believe world that works just like the real world. Children love it when the library, museum and theater work like real ones do.
A city needs vibrant public buildings and events. Buildings can be made of large appliance boxes or multiple moving boxes. I have even bought moving boxes in bulk and used them as build- ing blocks to create large structures. When the session was over, I broke them down for easy storage and used them a second and third time. Having tall boxes that fit several people at a time brings reality to the city. The buildings become city hall, libraries, museums and performance spaces.
We do not allow crime in Cardboard City, there is no jail and no police force. There are always a few students who watch a lot of television and think it might be fun to be a criminal. It may start out fun for them but not so much for those who are being stolen from. If you allow petty crime, you will be faced with multiple complaints and many tears. Some students will want to form a police force and create a jail to imprison alleged criminals; the police often detain the wrong suspects and can sometimes turn cruel. Policing and jails created more complaints and tears than the crimes themselves. Better to ban crime and punishment, it is a utopian notion but it saves all citizens (and those in charge) much heartache.
1. Large appliance boxes or smaller boxes taped together.
2. Box cutters for large doors and elaborate windows.
3. Art supplies for signs and decor.
4. Carton tape and/or duct tape
Click on the images below to see the items at Amazon. I have tried to pick links with the best value and price from Amazon but you might want to search a bit for the price and quantities that suit your needs.
1. Set your large cardboard buildings in a central part of the city.
2. Use the box cutters to cut large doors and multiple windows.
3. Make signs designating the buildings as: City Hall, Library, Museum, Theater, etc.
How to present it to your group:
1. Explain that everyone is welcome in the public buildings and nobody can be excluded.
2. City hall can be where you distribute the daily money.
3. The museum can buy pictures and art from citizens and display it.
4. You can have books in the library and check them out to citizens.
5. Schedule a variety show at the theater. Several members of your group will have a talent they want to share. We have had musicians, singers, dancers and comedy acts. The instructor should make sure that audience members are always respectful to performers. A surefire way to get full attendance at your performance events is to charge admission (split between performers and organizers) but give each audience member a treat of a popsicle, otter/freeze pop or something else irresistible as part of the ticket price.
The lesson is about using your talents to create something that is shared by everyone. Students will find that public buildings that benefit the group also benefit the individual. A student who performs at a talent show will enjoy the stage and get part of the ticket money. The audience gets to watch a show and maybe have a popsicle (performers get popsicles too).