Sometime during his or her school years your child will come home with an assignment to make a building. It might be a California mission or an old English mansion. Go directly to the closet and pull out shoe boxes. They are sturdy and inexpensive. Tape them together and even form hinged portions without hardware. A coat of paint and a bit of spackle turns your shoebox into an A+ project.
Measure the picture of the church and assign a scale to those numbers. Assign a numeric formula; if the picture shows a 3-inch tall church, make each inch equal 6 inches of actual cardboard replica. Make a rough sketch showing how many inches per side the structure will be to make it easier to cut the cardboard.
Measure your boxes and find the proper height-to-width ratio. Make it easier to assemble by using the corners of the boxes as part of the structure. Add height or width by taping extra pieces of cardboard to the basic structure.
Use plenty of sturdy tape to assemble the bottom floor of the church. Tape on a cardboard ceiling to lend additional support to the top of that level before building the second story. Work on each level separately before taping them together so that you won't risk toppling the entire structure.
Mark and carve doors and windows into the box. Glue on shutters cut out of cardboard; add cardboard decorative scrollwork (if desired), and glue on all decorative flat pieces. If a portion of a door or roof needs to be hinged, use a thick width of tape to allow that portion to move.
Smooth drywall tape over previously taped sections so that they appear seamless. Apply spackle to the outside walls to give the cardboard texture. Spackle with a damp art sponge for an authentic appearance if you want the walls of your church to be stucco. Work quickly before the spackle dries.
Use wood putty to mould rounded sections along the roof line. Adhere it to the cardboard by taping a line of toothpicks on the inside of the box at the top where many types of flat roofs have carved detailing (the tips of the toothpicks will poke through the cardboard). Hand-mold the curves and stick them onto the toothpicks to secure them. The toothpicks will be hidden inside the box. Spackle these pieces so they will blend with the rest of the structure.
Finish the project by hand-painting the church and detailing it with acrylic craft paint and a disposable foam paintbrush, or lightly spray the entire church with acrylic spray. Use two or three light coats of spray paint to avoid paint bubbles or runs. Dry between coats.
Mount the finished cardboard church to a ½ inch thick styrofoam base. Use white glue to adhere the cardboard to the base. Finish the project with two coats of acrylic polymer spray, drying thoroughly between coats.