Children are gleeful when they get their very own box (house). Most of them will immediately get in their box, open the window and grin! Some are so happy to have their own space, they will simply go in and enjoy the solitude and ownership. These moments are the thrill of childhood cardboard box play.
All citizens of Cardboard City get their own house that can double as a business as well. The houses
are made of extra-large moving boxes you can buy at the local home improvement store. Children love cardboard boxes, especially ones that they can fit into. On the first day of cardboard city, each citizen is given their own house (box), allowed to find a neighborhood for it and begins to decorate and customize it to their own preferences.
I learned the hard way that having your own house is important. At the first ever cardboard city class, I had a utopian view of communal building, living and sharing. It started out fine except that one or two students did most of the build- ing construction. When everybody started to move in to the buildings, the children who did most of the construction complained bitterly that they had done the building and the others had no right to occupy what they had made. The argument became so heated that a girl (the older sister of one of the builders) grabbed a box, made a sign and declared herself the village lawyer. She charged $5 for mediation and problem solving. Her brother was less than impressed but the other children were thrilled and her lawyer business prospered for the rest of the week.
1. Seal the bottom of the box; tape all seams but leave the top flaps open.
2. Use the box cutters to cut a door big enough for children to enter. First cut a 1" hole to act as a doorknob then cut three sides to make the door. Make a straight line indentation (score) the hinged side for easier opening.
3. On another side, cut a transom window (one that is cut on 3 sides and hinges on the bottom edge) this opens out and provides a tray to display things if they open a store or restaurant. The transom window should be about 8" × 10".
4. The new building owner can find a location for their
building and begin customizing it.
1. Extra large moving box (from Home Depot or Lowe's if you are buying in bulk)
2. Box cutters (for instructor, not students)
3. Art supplies (paper of many colors, crayons, markers, scissors, tape, glue, string, ribbon, etc., etc.)
4. Clear carton sealing 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.
Use Home Depot or Lowe's for bulk purchase of boxes.
How to present it to your group:
1. Tape, seal and cut the boxes before starting the lesson. Have them ready in the room or space that will be used.
2. Have art supplies set up in the space where the boxes are—inside or outside.
3. Explain to students that today is when they are going to be introduced to their building and start decorating it.
4. Put students’ names on the boxes before you bring the students in.
5. Lead them into the space, have them find their building, find a spot and begin decorating.
Children get to think about and act on how they want to decorate their house, what kind of business they might want to start and where they want their house to be located. Decorating your house is a large creative art venture. Thinking about your business and what you might like to create for it requires complex thinking and some self-reflection. Some children prefer working with others and will create cooperative projects, while others like to act alone.