I was always fond of handmade small worlds. Finally my kids are big enough to make one together. We started this project on the first day of snow and of course the theme of our box is Winter! Both boys were very excited to make this project and my 4.5 y.o. was taking part in every step of creating of this magical little world!
Materials: Cardboard crate, acrylic paint, brushes, white glue, aluminum foil, cotton balls, water, droppers, hot glue gun, blue paper, laminator, clay.
Step 1. Paint the box.
All you need for this step is a big cardboard crate, white paint and brushes and rollers, or anything you want to use for painting. If you use non-washable paints, be sure to cover the table and kids’ clothes.
We had a leftover of white primer paint and, as we checked in summer, it was easily washed from all the surfaces and clothes. Both boys were taking part in this activity. Although, my 3 y.o. had a bit different approach to it.
Note 1: if you don’t have a lot of paint, or if you are doing it not as an activity for kids, you can paint only the sides of the box, because the bottom will be covered anyway!
Step 2. Make the wintery scene.
We decided to make a lake and a hill with a slide and the rest of the surface to cover with snow. For the lake and slide we took 1 sheet of blue paper and laminated it. Later I cut the strip for the slide from it. I used the hot glue gun to attach the lake to the cardboard crate. For the slide we made a hill from several layers of aluminum foil, I tried to make it look as natural as possible. Before gluing the slide to the hill, I’ve checked the slope with a toy figure, and fixed it so, that it was actually sliding down from it, not falling. I had to work with the slope of the hill a little bit to achieve the needed result.
When the slide was attached to the hill with the hot glue gun, I glued the whole thing to the box. While I was working with the hot glue gun, my 4.5 y.o. was unrolling the cotton balls. We needed a lot of them!!!
When the cotton was ready, we covered the bottom of the crate with glue.
Then we covered it with the cotton as evenly as we could. We got a fluffy surface.
It looked nice already, but it couldn’t be used for playing – the cotton could be easily torn apart and our aim is to make a box for active playing.
So, we are moving to the next step.
Step 3. Make it WET.
I mixed some glue into the water and gave droppers to my boys to make the cotton surface wet. We made some blue water and coloured the snow around the water and the slide, and a little bit all around the box. It was a great activity, and both boys enjoyed playing with the droppers. While doing it we also revealed the places where we needed to add more cotton. We waited about three days, until the crate was dry. I checked it every day, and if there was cotton, which was still fluffy, I covered it with glue.
Note: If it is not an activity with kids, or you don’t want to wait for so long, you can use spray bottles instead of droppers.
The box is ready! Almost…. (there will be one decorating step in the end of Step 6)
Step 4. Clay figures
You can start this part any time, while you prepare the box.
We made trees, snow walls, and snowmen with clay. Of course you can buy these things and save the time, but we decided to turn it into a family activity.
We used air-dry clay for our figures. Every member of the family made at least a couple of trees. My 4.5 y.o. made 3 or 4 trees, a wall, a snowman, and a hedgehog. His 3 y.o. brother didn’t make any actual figures, but he was happy playing with us and loved the texture of the clay. We gave the figures 2-3 days to dry completely.
Advice: Keep the clay, that is not used in the wet cloths – it will keep it wet. You should also have a glass of water on the table, it helps to get rid of cracks on the figures.
Step 5. Painting.
My 3 y.o. didn’t take part in this activity, although I am sure that he could color some trees if he was in the right mood for it. We were going to use only washable paint and then to cover everything with protective finish (we forgot to do it).
The white paint didn’t cover the clay, it just didn’t work, and we had to take acrylic paint instead! And it worked perfectly! Honestly, I think they all turned out great! When the figures were ready we left them to dry till the next day.
Step 6. Last details.
When everything was dry and ready, I gave the box and the figures to my boys. They jumped into placing the figures all around it, when I understood that we miss something… the ICE!
Hot glue gun helped me with fixing this problem! I covered the borders of the lake and the slide, and put some ice here and there around the box. I also put some glue on the walls and on the bottom of the trees.
The game is ready!