Create a Play City from Upcycled Boxes

by Monica T. Blas, children’s author and illustrator of Uppity Owl.

Play City Made from Reclaimed Cardboard Boxes

Editor’s note: We’re super-excited to share this reclaimed cardboard box project from Monica T. Blas! Her play city is so cute and looks like a lot of fun. Monica has a new ebook of upcycled crafts that’s coming out soon, and you can check out deets on that below! – Becky Striepe

Fall greetings fellow crafters! Loving the earth is easy to do when upcycling crafts are so much fun. Today, I’m sharing an upcycled craft I titled “Box City.”

I came up with this idea after creating city buildings out of blocks for my preschooler. We had so much fun pulling over “reckless” drivers who caused damage to our city buildings! Some Hot Wheel drivers even had to do some jail time (lol!). Since I had some small boxes that were not being used any longer, and I wondered if I could create more realistic city buildings, this upcycle craft was a no-brainer. I’m sure the reckless Hot Wheelers will appreciate these more durable city buildings!

I was quite pleased with the outcome, especially since my preschooler loved playing with them! Here’s how you can make your own play city from reclaimed boxes.

Box City: Play City from Reclaimed Boxes


  • small boxes (I used 3: Police Station, $ Bank, Dad’s Work.)
  • duct tape, 3 different colors (I used dark brown, light brown, gold.)
  • scissors
  • wax paper
  • permanent markers


1. Find small useless boxes.

2. Tape down lids on the inside of the box.

Cardboard Box Taped

3. Wrap tape from one edge to the other side. This is one long strip that will cover the edges, sides and top of the box vertically. Do this for all sides.

Tape Box Sides

4. Wrap tape around the box horizontally. Even though all sides will be covered from the vertical strips of duct tape, this will give your building a finished look.

Box All Taped

5. Create windows by taking your second color of duct tape and putting a long strip of it on wax paper – about 1′. The wax paper makes it easier to cut the duct tape. You want the tape to peel off easily so don’t press the duct tape down on the wax paper. Cut your duct tape straight down the middle, horizontally, creating two long strips. Then, take one strip and cut the windows – about 1″ x 1″ squares. Be sure to leave some of the wax paper hanging off one side to make it easier to peel off. Cut a couple of strips to fit the length of the building for the signs. I put one sign on the front and on the back of each building/box.

Play City Windows

6. Add the windows and signs all round the building. Windows on all sides of the building gives it a polished, big city look. I didn’t use any specific measurements to stick the windows on. Instead, I put windows in the corners first, visually spacing them, then added the middle windows. It’s easier to space them out that way and it will save you time.

7. Take your permanent markers and write the building names on the signs.

Play and have fun while loving the earth!

Monica T. Blas is a children’s author and illustrator. Her eBook, Uppity Owl Upcycles a Brooch, is set to release Amazon on October 1st, 2012. Uppity Owl Upcycles a Brooch is about a crafty owl who loves to take used items thrown away in the pond he lives by and upcycle them into new and useful things. To learn more about Uppity Owl, please visit her blog. You can also find Monica on Facebook or follow her on Twitter or on Pinterest.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top