My parents came to visit us in Malawi a couple of years ago and my mom brought a page she had ripped out of a Family Fun magazine with directions for a DIY play kitchen set made out of cardboard boxes. She also brought all the supplies (duct tape, bottle lids, etc) and had planned to make the kitchen for the girls while she was visiting, but we never found boxes the right size. She left all the supplies and directions and I always meant to make the kitchen but I never got around to it and so I packed that little bag of supplies and directions and brought it with us when we moved back to Zambia. It was in storage for months until we moved to this house.
Our current home has a little storage shed that is pretty cool because it’s split in two. There is this front side (pictured below) and then another door to a separate room in the back. We have all our storage and trunks and things locked up in the back of the shed and decided that the front would make a perfect play house so we finally made that cardboard box kitchen and set up a play house with the girls’ felt food and table and chair set as a surprise to wake up to on Valentine’s Day morning.
My husband and I had fun making the kitchen after the girls were in bed – it took us a couple of nights but the end result was worth the effort. The girls love it, it has inspired a lot of imaginative play and it has stood up pretty well despite the fact that they are not particularly gentle with it. If you are interested in making your own Spoonful has posted the directions online (which is a lot easier than keeping track of a single page of a magazine) and, if you are at all intimidated by drawing the window view, you can do what I did and follow these instructions at Art Projects for Kids. I actually worked on the view while the kids were awake and they helped me color it in. It made it extra special for them to see their own handy work incorporated into their surprise.
This project, and the giggles it has produced, is among my favorite things we have done since the move.
What are your favorite DIY gifts for kids? Add a link to the instructions in the comments if you have one!