Small World Play: Cardboard Box Town

Make a town inside a large cardboard box for a fantastic small world play time that uses the whole body! Such a great way for toddlers and preschoolers to play together indoors or outdoors.
My husband told me I can only keep this giant cardboard box until the weekend, then it’s got to go. What’s a girl to do?! PLAY in it as much as we can before he gets to it with his dreaded Stanley knife that’s what! First Pop got in the box as I filled it with play balls and she crawled around in it madly, having a whale of a time flinging them here, there and everywhere! Then we set about making a small world imaginative play space. 
I drew a (very basic!) road system, park, train station, train tracks and car park. Pop helped out and loved adding a touch of colour here and there (and all over her face too of course.)I added our basket of wooden building blocks and she loved stacking and arranging them while I built some others into a little city-scape.
We did a little round up of play people, trucks, cars, trains and trees and added them to the scene for some imaginative small world play. She thought it was the funniest thing ever to get the train driver to whoosh down the slide!

And I think it’s possibly the first time she’s ever impressed Big Sister with an idea she has had! C loved it and encouraged her to do it again and again.

 And with that she climbed right into the box with her and joined right in, driving trucks, busying the little people and arranging the buildings just so. 

What they are learning as they play:

  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World: block play and construction/ transport/ road systems
  • Literacy: language and vocabulary development/ labelling objects/ mark making
  • Maths: building/ solid shapes/ counting/ manipulating objects/ sorting and matching
  • Physical: fine motor skill and co-ordination/ gross motor- stacking and balancing
  • Creativity: imaginative play/ mark making/ experimenting with materials
  • PSE: sustained concentration/  independent play/ co-operation


  1. says

    Oh what fun! I am so glad to see all of these fabulous cardboard box ideas because I sure do have an abundance of them now that I am unpacking from our move!

  2. says

    How fun! I can totally relate to the ‘when are you getting rid of that thing?’ from hubby :-(

    Little Pop is getting cuter and cuter every month!

  3. says

    What a great little town. I love that it’s so contained in the box. I never thought to cut the box in that direction… we always do them standing up. This looks like its own kind of fun. :) Sharing on my Wahm Life facebook page.

  4. says

    Right, now all I need is a giant cardboard box! Is that an interactive whiteboard box?

    What a marvellous idea, so simple yet really effective.

  5. says

    Oh my how very cute! Love the “containedness” of it 😉 but my kids also love sitting in boxes, so this would go down a treat!

    Thanks, as always, for linking to Kids Get Crafty!


  6. says

    Jacqueline, Thank you so much for the inspiration! I just love what you are doing and can’t wait to ignite my the imagination of my two and a half year old. What fun, you have certainly set my inagination alight!!!

  7. Emily says

    this is very cool. I guess it’s obvious to your followers, but if you don’t mind posting the kid’s ages in these activities, it’d be great! I’m so sad now that we got rid of a box this size just a month ago.. I bet my 15month old would have enjoyed it as something!

  8. says

    Love, love, love! I have been able to save large boxes in our garage by folding them flat and leaning them against the wall, then they aren’t in my husbands way. We fold them back when we use them, keeping packing tape handy to secure the sides so they go back to their original form, or a new form if we want to change it up!