With the Kids

Playing With Trash: Mini Lego Playhouse

It’s so hard to throw boxes into the recycling. Not because I want to keep them, but because my sons always want to play with them! Boxes are such a great blank canvas for creative play, and kids seem to know it. My sons have made boxes into tractors, kitchen stoves, building blocks, and an endless stream of other items.

So, the boys were very interested when I took a half-broken box they were playing with and turned it into a playhouse for their Legos. My kids are a little too young to draw their own scene inside a box, but older kids will enjoy drawing pictures on the playhouse walls and rugs on the ground.

Use any of the following supplies:

  • Box (any kind will work)
  • Markers or paint
  • Old Furniture Catalog (Pottery Barn, IKEA, etc.)
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors

There are so many ways to do this open-ended activity: just use markers or pen and draw, or cut out pictures from a catalog (like this doll house that uses pictures from IKEA), cut out windows and doors, etc. Just provide the materials and the suggestion, and your kids will do the rest!

You can also use recycled cardboard to make props like beds, chairs, hay bales, tables, etc.

Scene suggestions to get you started:

  • Outdoor tropical paradise: palm trees, a pool or beach with shells on the ground
  • Castle: rock walls, tapestries
  • Dream house: make carpet out of scrap fabric, print mini famous works of art

This project works especially well with dolls or figurines to use inside the scene, so don’t forget to add your child’s favorite toy to the mix to inspire creative play.

Heather Mann is a regular contributor at Make and Takes. She’s is the mother of three boys, ages 3,  2, and baby. She publishes Dollar Store Crafts, a daily blog devoted to hip crafting at dollar store prices, CROQ Zine, a print magazine devoted to hip crafting, and also CraftFail, a community blog that encourages crafters to share their not-so-successful craft attempts.


  1. I love how Indie is putting his feet up after a hard days adventuring :)

    We’ve made houses before, but not for Lego people, our scale is normally bigger so will be showing your blog to my boys and seeing if inspiration strikes.

  2. As the saying goes “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and I have totally found this to be true. My son has made many a “garage” or “cave” or any thing else only limited by his imagination out of boxes.

    I will never forget my nieces 1st Christmas; despite the many, expensive appealing toys for an 8 mo. old, she preferred playing with the boxes and the bows over any of the toys.

  3. We LOVE boxes at our house. We’ve just purchased a few Zhu Zhu pets and we’re making houses for them with our boxes!!

  4. What a cute idea. I’ve used boxes as blocks plenty of times, but making “houses” didn’t occur to me. I’m sure my boys would love it. Art project here I come :D

  5. LOVE IT!

    I am SUCH a big fan of recycled crafts.
    It is such a great way to build storytelling skills in kids too – I can imagine hoe my 2 girls would spend hours making up stories with a playhouse like this one. The dream house sounds awesome … perhaps we will try that

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