Children love role play. Games with tiny figures and mini-worlds can occupy them for many happy hours. Imagine combining this with a craft activity that gets them to design their own backdrop for the games. The end result is something unique and special that will bring them great satisfaction and pride.
Getting the Basics Right
The best thing to use for the play set is an old cardboard box. It needs to be quite a sizeable box so there is enough room for the child to play and plenty of scope for decoration.
Use the longest side as the base and cut away one of the sides and the top of the box, so you have a four sided base to work on.
Cover the inside walls of the play set with a colour that blends in with the overall theme. You could try pasting a collage scene onto the walls if you prefer. Use green shades for a jungle or beige for a desert play set. If the kids have decided on an enchanted fairy garden, look out for lots of floral pictures in magazines and brochures. For a fairyland, finish the walls of the play set with magical glitter.
A large flat square of cardboard is equally effective for the base of the play set. It’s just a matter of whatever materials you have to hand. The new play set is almost ready to be decorated and furnished but the last job is to create a suitable ‘floor’. Here are some ideas:-
- A good base for jungles and enchanted gardens is green paint. Dot the base with small clumps of moss which can be purchased from garden centres and glued in place. If you don’t want to use moss, pieces of ripped household sponge which have been stippled with paint and fixed to the base are very effective.
- For a prehistoric landscape or desert, try using beige paint and when it’s dry, cover it liberally with a thin layer of PVA glue that has been mixed to a stiff consistency with sand.
- If you are making a farm play set, arrange torn pieces of sponge or household scourer in squares and lines to create hedges and fields for animals to graze in.
All the fun of this craft comes from designing and choosing all the different features you’d like to add. The list is endless!
Create lots of vegetation and bushes for your landscape by using clumps of green sponge. To add height with trees, paint empty toilet paper or kitchen towel tubes brown and stick fronds of green tissue paper torn into fronds to make palm trees.
If your landscape is a jungle or prehistoric dinosaur land, string lengths of brown yarn across the top of the cardboard box and tie strips of green tissue paper across the length to make jungle creepers.
Rivers and pools can be made from patches of silver foil glued to the base of your play set. Edge the water with pieces of play dough and stud it with clumps of pebbles or stones from the garden to make river boulders.
For a volcanic landscape, create a cone effect with play dough studded with pebbles and stone. Scrunch orange polythene from sweet wrappers to make the fiery pit of the volcano and streaks of red paint down the side of the volcano to recreate a lava flow.
Cut out the bases of egg cartons and paint them a vivid red with small white dots to make magic toadstools for a fairy village.
The key to making a great play set is to spend some time with your children looking at pictures and ideas in books and on websites before thinking about how you can recreate them with simple objects from around the house.
Add their favourite plastic farm animals, fairy dolls, dinosaurs or jungle animals and you have something unique that will capture kids’ imagination for hours and days to come.