I've been wanting to make Abe a playhouse for awhile now, so after
sizing up the competition finding some inspiration on Pinterest (see a few of my favorites here, here, and here) I got to work on my project for...
Home Depot is generally the last place I'd think to look for children's toys, but it's the first place we always go when we're working on the house. This time I was working on a house for Abe, and I knew that, except for a few supplies I already had at home, they would have everything I needed.
Our cardboard playhouse is made from: 3 large packing boxes, ½ roll of clear masking tape, and 1 roll of black duct tape. Other supplies I had on hand, but also available at Home Depot: glass cabinet hardware (for doorknob), chalkboard paint, plastic hooks, battery operated light, and a utility knife. (Find the building instructions here.)
I used one glass knob left over from refinishing my old dresser, along with one of the original knobs that I had taken off that dresser, to make the doorknob.
Abe has been very interested in locks and keys lately, so I added a keyhole - custom made for his colorful set of keys.
Abe helped decorate the house as I was putting it together. At one point, he decided to lay down while he worked. Apparently even babies get tired of "painting" walls.
Of course every house needs some numbers! I made these laminated number magnets and stuck them to an old metal lid. The lid was a little too small to fit all my numbers, but they go up to 12 so it could be used as a clock too!
Abe noticed me building the window box, and after telling me it was a "chair" he decided to sit down and try it out. Not the most well-designed chair but it works well as a window box!
I made some hand-painted flowers from lightweight cardboard to fill the window box. They don't smell like much but they sure are pretty! (Tutorial coming soon!)
The mailbox is made from a small box that I attached to the house with zip ties. I added a cardboard flag and ribbon pull-tab for easy access.
He couldn't wait to check for mail...
...so I had to make sure there was something to find! I filled the box with these laminated postcards, leftover valentines, and holiday cards from family and friends.
I used another small box to make a doghouse for his puppy. Every morning he walks his puppy into the kitchen and asks me for a "cookie". I know he's going to offer his puppy a few bites before eating it, so I usually give them an animal cracker or vanilla wafer to share. Darn boy and his dog trick...gets me EVERY time!
On the other side of the house I made a wall for him to work with his tools. I used a real screw driver to poke some holes in the box, and then pushed the plastic nails and screws through to make the holes bigger.
I cut the hole with the blue ball in it big enough to fit an empty paper towel roll to use as a spy glass. He didn't quite understand the concept of looking through it, but he did figure out that the hole was big enough for his plastic balls.
Now I just have to teach him how to use a hammer.
Here's a view from the other side. I hung a battery operated lamp on the back wall (so he can still play in there after dark), and threw down a small blanket for a rug and his Boppy to use as a chair. Eventually I want to build a little kitchen and some other cardboard furniture, but he seems content with it for now.
I built the house in such a way that I ended up with a convienient little shelf at the front and back of the house. The back shelf was big enough for some light toys and stuffed animals...
...and the front shelf had just enough room to stash a few board books.
By the door, I hung a little safety mirror with duct tape and a small plastic hook for his keys. I left the other walls empty for Abe to decorate on his own. So far his favorite color to use has been brown. I think it may have something to do with the chocolate scented marker he's been using...
Since I wanted to be able to use the front window as an impromptu puppet theater, I made curtains to help hide the puppeteer (usually me). The adorable 5 Little Ducks stick puppets are a free download available at Picklebums.
I didn't cut any windows in the back of the house because I wanted a nice big area to make a chalkboard. I simply taped off a large rectangle with painter's tape and covered the area with a couple coats of chalkboard paint (leftover from this project).
Of course the chalk use wasn't limited to the chalkboard. Does this picture remind anyone else of Harold and the Purple Crayon?
To keep art supplies handy, I added another hook next to the chalkboard to hold a small bucket of chalk.
Abe enjoyed drawing on the chalkboard, but he loved rearranging the pom-pom garland I had hung above it. I know I shouldn't be surprised because he's been bringing me dust bunnies cradled in the palm of his hand - like tiny little pets - since before he could walk, so it makes sense that he'd love grasping the fuzzy pom-poms.
Originally I strung the pom-poms on a length of nylon yarn, which stretched out a lot when he started playing with them. I replaced the yarn with cotton twine and that seems to be holding up much better.
We generally keep the chalkboard side turned to the wall, although it's easy to slide out or spin the whole house around when he wants to color. Unfortunately he doesn't understand the difference between cardboard walls and real walls as the walls in our sunroom are now covered with chalk. Oh well, that's why we buy the washable stuff, right?
So there you have it...Abe's cardboard playhouse. Oh, and the total cost of essential supplies (boxes, tape, and duct tape)...just over $12!