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Kids these days need a creative outlet. My girls love to tinker and if they don't have the outlet they need, they tend to destroy our house. They recently started building their own Barbie doll house dioramas, and have come up with a terrific project that they wanted to share with the world.

My girls are ages 10 and 8. They are responsible enough to build the dioramas without supervision. They handle the scissors and the low temp glue gun without trouble, but they did need some help early on in their building careers. This journey of construction has taught them the importance of scale, how to take accurate measurements, working as a team, conflict resolution, and taking one man's recycling and turning it into their own treasure.

This Instructable documents their build of a Barbie Coffee Shop. There are also images of their Pet Boutique and a Beauty Salon in the last step. I hope you find inspiration in their work and can encourage your own kids to give it a shot. This Instructable has been entered into the Rainy Day contest (even though it's actually a snow day for us!) and the Before and After contest. Please vote and support their passion for creative play!

Step 1: Materials

Cardboard Box with dimensions large enough to fit a Barbie Doll.

Glue Sticks

Scissors

Scrapbook Paper

Construction Paper (assorted colors)

Hot Glue Gun / Hot Glue Sticks

Tape

Beads (for artificial plants)

Artificial Plant

Letter stickers

Barbie and or Ken Dolls

Step 2: Getting Started

Cut the flaps off the cardboard box. Flip the box on its side and cut the box in half so that it still has three sides. This is hard to describe so make sure to check out the pictures. One side will act as the floor and the other two sides will act as the walls. Make sure the box is tall enough so that the dolls fit. The dimensions of this diorama box are 14 inches tall x 9 inches deep x 10 inches long. Be careful while cutting cardboard. It's tough so you may need an adult to help with this step.

Step 3: Floor and Walls

Choose the scrap book paper that you want to use for the floor and walls. Cut the paper to the correct dimensions and paste into place. They decided to use a strip of black construction paper at the top because they are thrifty didn't want to cut a new sheet of scrapbook paper.

It should start looking more like a room and less like a cardboard box!

Step 4: Barrista Counter With Shelves

Using scrap pieces of cardboard, create a counter that is about waist high for Ken or Barbie. The counter created here is about 4 inches tall. This counter was assembled using three rectangular pieces of scrap cardboard. After the cardboard was cut out, it was wrapped in construction paper (just like wrapping a present). After the parts had been wrapped, the girls hot glued them together and added the counter to the diorama.

They also included a few shelves that were created the same way as the counter. The shelves were hot glued directly to the wall.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

The difference is in the details! My girls had a blast thinking of all the things you might find in a coffee shop and and even more fun creating them from odds and ends laying around the house. They made "potted plants" using beads and a bit of an artificial plant. They added cakes, cookies, pastries, plates, a register, a coffee shop sign, a menu, a credit card for Ken... They are still adding ideas and the best part is that there will be endless opportunities for them to build upon their creativity.

My girls play with their home-made creations WAY more than the store bought plastic toys that break easily, are expensive, and originated in a factory in a land far, far away.

If your first attempt doesn't turn out exactly as planned, don't worry! Good luck and don't stop playing!

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm a middle school science teacher going on 15 years in the classroom. I've taught 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. I'm constantly ... More »
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