Make a shoebox dollhouse out of a cardboard box, and decorate it with magazine clippings, wallpaper samples, scrapbook paper and fabric scraps. This simple activity will keep kids entertained for hours, and encourage creativity, imagination and good old fashioned fun.
We made shoebox dollhouses here in my daycare today, and the kids loved the project. We decorated our dollhouses using wallpaper samples to cover the walls and floors, and we furnished the houses with clippings of furniture, windows, lighting etc. from home decor magazines.
When I was a kid, I loved making shoebox dollhouses. We used to spend hours decorating them and making homemade dolls to live in them. I actually made my own dollhouse along-side the kids today, today and I enjoyed every minute of it. It took me right back to my childhood when I would make and decorate houses for my my Strawberry Shortcake dolls, and multi-box condos for my barbies.
See all of our homemade doll crafts here.
Repurposing recyclables for crafts and activities is one of my favourite ways to save money on daycare supplies and to encourage creativity and imagination. It gives kids a great feeling of satisfaction to create something cool with cast-off materials. Below are a few cardboard box projects we’ve made in the past.
More cardboard box crafts:
- shoebox nativity set
- cereal box self portraits
- cardboard dropbox
- box lid art
- cardboard box construction bin
This project kept the girls busy for the better part of the morning. They ranged in age from 6 to 12 and they all enjoyed the activity immensely.
To make a shoebox dollhouse, you’ll need:
- wallpaper samples (ask for expired books at your local paint store)
- fabric scraps, felt and scrapbook paper are great too
- home decor magazines
- measuring tape, pencil, ruler
The best kind of box
You can make a doll house out of any kind of cardboard box, but the best is a shoebox that has a folding lid attached right to the box. The lid can fold out to become an extended floor for the house and an area for kids to pay with their dolls on. (see image below)
Textured walls, floors, and curtains
We used our wallpaper samples to decorate the floors and walls of our dollhouses. Patterned, textured scrapbook paper would be great too. Fabric scraps are also wonderful as carpets and curtains.
Where to get wallpaper sample books
I get our wallpaper sample books from the local paint and wallpaper store. They just throw them in the trash when they expire so they’re always happy to give them away.
Drop by your local paint store to see if they have any that you can take off their hands.
The kids loved exploring all of the colours, patterns and textures in the wallpaper books. They spent ages pouring over the pages, picking out the perfect paper for their dollhouses.
They used a tape measure to carefully measure the sides of their boxes so they could cut their paper to fit.
The wallpaper samples aren’t pre-glued like real wallpaper is, so we used glue sticks to glue the pieces of wallpaper to our shoeboxes.
There were some great textured wallpaper samples to use for flooring and carpeting.
Some of the kids used cool faux-brick wallpaper samples to cover the outside of their houses, and to some used that same paper to cut out a fireplace for the inside of their dollhouse.
Furniture and fixtures
When the walls and floors of their dollhouses were covered, the kids spent another hour or so flipping through home decor magazines to find furniture, windows, doors and light fixtures to decorate their houses with.
They cut out couches, chairs, dressers and beds, and they found lots of smaller decor items like artwork, mirrors, lamps, plants and area rugs to glue to their walls and floors.
For a 3-dimensional look
Check out the creative way one child hung the chandelier in her dollhouse. Instead of gluing it to the back wall of the shoebox, she made a little fold at the top of it, and glued it halfway back on the ceiling of her house for a 3-dimensional look. You can see what I mean in the photo below:
Wouldn’t it be cool to attach some of the furniture that way? You might need to glue it to a sturdy piece of card stock first, so it would stand up, but it’s certainly worth trying.
A couple of the older kids were going for a certain decor style in their dollhouse, so they were quite particular when going through the magazines.
One wanted a shabby-chic look and the other was going with a California style. Those who weren’t picky about the style were particular about the type of room they were decorating i.e a bedroom or a living room.
Decorate the outside too!
We didn’t decorate the outside of our shoeboxes, but you could with a front door, windows, mailbox, and shrubs and flowers in the garden.
In the end, this project turned out great and the kids really enjoyed the creative process. If you’re looking for a fun project to keep your kids busy on a rainy day, I would highly recommend this one.
It’s easy, fun, creative and it will provide your child with hours of open-ended, good old-fashioned, imaginative play.
Homemade Dolls for Kids to Make
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- Paint Stick Dolls with Yarn and Fabric Scraps
- Flat People
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.