How to build a model house for kids

Updated March 23, 2017

Building model houses is a fun way to teach your kids about construction and planning, while also supporting their creative sides. You may complete this project in a single sitting or stretched out over several days; adapt it to suit the needs and abilities of young children or teenagers. Cardboard is by far the least expensive and most versatile building material for model houses, although foam and light woods, such as balsa, are also suitable for this purpose. Plan the house design first and decide if the house will be scaled for dolls or your kids.

Draw the floor plan on a flat piece of cardboard in pencil or marker. Tape several cardboard sheets together if the panels are not large enough. Mark all doorways and passageways.

Measure the height of the tallest figurine or child that will be using the house to determine the desired height of the house. Add 7.5 cm (3 inches) clearance for dolls and 15 cm to 60 cm (6 to 24 inches) clearance for children.

Count how many individual panels are needed after examining the location of walls in your floor plan (e.g., a single room structure requires four walls.)

Measure the length of all walls on the floor plan. Write measurements directly on the cardboard floor or on a separate sketch of the house.

Cut the cardboard to the specified lengths; all pieces should be the same height. Be sure to cut out doorways.

Apply hot glue to the base to tack two adjacent walls in place, where the panel meets the floor.

Hold the panels and tape the walls together along the interior and exterior corner.

Prop up another adjacent wall panel and tape it to the structure. Continue to tape each individual wall into place.

Cut windows into the exterior of the structure using a Stanley knife or scissors.

Cover the entire house with paper to protect seams and provide an even surface.

Decorate the house as desired with paint, markers or crayon.

Apply sealer, such as acrylic spray or varnish, to protect the surface.


Purchase many small, cardboard boxes to build a sturdier structure that is similar to a brick house. Check your local toy stores or home goods retailer to find pre-decorated boxes sold expressly for this project. You may also attach cardboard doors with duct tape hinges. Just trim the cardboard 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) smaller than the opening and leave space between the door jam and door when applying tape. Kid's furniture may be moved into the house or made from sturdy cardboard boxes, such as those used for carrying machinery parts. Apply carpet samples to the floor for extra comfort. Set the house up in a basement or other out-of-the-way place. It will last for months with proper care. Repair rips and fallen walls as they occur. Apply cardboard poster tubes to the walls and overhead as support beams.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Stanley knife
  • Roll paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Sealer
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About the Author

Sylvia Cini has written informative articles for parents and educators since 2009. Her articles appear on various websites. Cini has worked as a mentor, grief counselor, tutor, recreational leader and school volunteer coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts.