Castles conjure up images of fair maidens and knights in shining armour. Although this may not be an accurate image of life in the middle ages, building model castles for school projects allows kids to learn about the structure of real castles while having some fun. Fortunately, constructing castles from readily available supplies is relatively easy.
Cardboard boxes and tubes in a variety of sizes make a solid base for castles. Paper towel tubes and toilet paper rolls provide the basis for towers and small boxes form the structure of the castle. Facial tissue boxes, shoe boxes and cereal boxes can be cut and pieced together to the desired shape and size.
Styrofoam makes an excellent form for the castle. When purchased in blocks, it can be cut with a knife to match the dimensions of the body of the castle. Its light weight makes it ideal for transporting to school and is easy for the youngest children to manoeuvre on buses or in the car. Although it will crack and break if handled roughly, styrofoam holds its shape and is fairly durable.
Paper mache makes is possible to add fine details or add dimension to castles. Added to the foam or cardboard castle form, paper mache creates texture to the outside of the castle that resembles stone when painted in greys and black. It is effective for creating miniature figures or embellishments to the castle as paper mache can be moulded into any shape.
Sponge painting the stones on the outside of the castle gives a realistic look. Cut household sponges into small irregular-shaped rectangles in the appropriate size for the castle stones. Dip in grey paint a shade or two lighter than the base coat on the castle and stamp to create the illusion of stones.
Scrap booking paper or wallpaper samples in natural stone designs make an excellent covering for the castle base. Look for decorative paper in the office supply or craft supply section of your local stores. Fabric is another inexpensive choice for covering the castle and comes in a wide variety of designs and textures.
Placing the castle on a flat cardboard or foamboard base allows you to create a moat around the castle. Painting the moat blue or murky green and covering with a sheet of cling film creates a glossy appearance resembling water. Miniature trees or shrubs made from reindeer moss or other natural materials adds detail to the landscape. For more realistic landscape, build up the base with paper mache and paint in the appropriate colours.