DIY Cardboard Ice Cream Shop

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Do you need an idea for entertaining the kids during the School Holidays? They can be a wonderful chance to spend quality time with your kids…as well as a full-on couple of weeks where they test you to your limits with endless questions and squabbles and whinging about ‘when can we watch some tv?’! Some days are wonderful and you all have a great time, and some days seem to drag. I get it.

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So, I wanted to create a DIY project that you could make in the School Holidays, that would not only be a fun activity to make with the kids…but it would also be great entertainment for them over the following few days. Because if your kids are anything like mine, they absolutely love pretend play.

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Let me introduce you to this DIY Cardboard Ice Cream Shop! Made out of boxes, coloured card and tape, it is such a fun creation. I’m going to show you how to make this colourful version. But you can make it as basic, or embellished as you like.

When I made my first prototype out of plain cardboard with no decorations (just the frame), the kids loved it and I was so surprised by how much entertainment they got out of it. They grabbed some pretend play cupcakes and ice blocks from their room, and proceeded to play shop. Then they scribbled all over it for quite a while. Talk about bang for your buck in terms of cost v entertainment factor!

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But having said that, I really did have a great time creating this eye-catching and colourful version of an Ice Cream Shop. Your kids can totally get involved with helping make it (it might be half the fun!).  I also enjoyed adding some finishing touches to it when they were in bed, so that a magical pretend play shop was waiting for them the next morning.

Watch them in action below:

So let’s do this!

Here are the supplies I used:

 For the Cardboard Shop:

  • Cardboard boxes - I used the #9 size cartons

  • A Science Project Board (this is the top half of the shop, and was so much easier to use than trying to construct your own frame)

  • Large Sheets of Coloured card - try get the largest sheets possible

  • Packaging Tape

  • Scissors and a Cutting Knife

  • Patterned Papers – there are some really cute designer papers with fun patterns

  • Glitter Card

  • A mini Whiteboard

  • Whiteboard markers

For the Play Ice Cream Cones:

  • Tissue Paper

  • Coloured Card

  • Clear Tape

  • Scissors and Cutting Knife

  • Double Sided Tape

This project was a collaboration with Warehouse Stationery, which is where you can find all these awesome supplies.

Step One - Make the Shop Structure

Make the base of the shop by making up two boxes and taping them together. You can cover the top with coloured card now too.

Then make up the Science Project Board and cut out an archway for the kids to serve from. Tape this part to the base, and the basic frame of your shop is done. How easy was that?

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 You can go as hard or simple as you like with decorating the shop. Here’s some of the ways I added fun colour and detail:

  • I covered the whole thing with coloured card. Some I also cut into strips to make a candy cane look. I used packaging tape to attach most of it, plus some double-sided tape.

  • Cut out letters with coloured card to spell the name of the shop, and attach to the header with a glue stick. I also did the same thing with ice cream cones cut out of patterned (designer) papers.

  • I cut out curved panels from glitter card, and stuck them to the header, to make an awning.

  • I made a menu board by sticking a little whiteboard to the side.

  • I also made a little pretend play ice cream cone set. Have a look at the tutorial here.

  • Lots of cute stickers

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Make a play ice cream cone set

Roll square paper into cone shapes and secure with clear tape. Then scrunch up layers of tissue paper to make the ice cream scoops. Make a base by folding cardboard into a rectangle, securing it with tape, then cutting holes in the top with a knife. The cones can sit in the holes. Now you have a little ice cream cone set ready to go!

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Once you’ve finished your Ice Cream Shop, pop it where your kids can play and get ready for hours of entertainment! I think it would be a fun drawcard for playdates too - get some of the kids friends over, and see what fun they have

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I would love to see your creations and hear about what you made, so please share them with me. I spend most of my time hanging out on Instagram, so message me there @cleverpoppy (or email

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