Today we have the cutest paper bag craft for kids, paper bag houses! Making paper bag buildings is a great activity for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners and even older kids. Building a paper bag city helps kids benefit from exploring pretend play, learning about the world, practicing socialization and social cues and independence with this fun dramatic play activity. AND it is a really fun paper craft! Make a paper bag village at home or in the classroom.

Make a Pretend City from Kids Activities Blog- A hospital and homes made from paper bags to looks like real life buildings with paint, and a little girl playing with toys like Cinderella and first responder cars.
Let’s create a paper city to enjoy some dramatic play!

How To Make Paper Bag Houses & City To Promote Dramatic Play

Dramatic play is a great way to get kids engaged in their imagination and explore the world and social cues. And what better way to do this than with a pretend city made from paper bags!

Related: How to make a paper house

This is a great classroom craft where each child builds a different paper bag building to add to the class’s paper bag community.

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Supplies Needed To Make Paper Bag Houses 

Supplies for making a pretend city with paper bags- paper bags, paintbrushes, markers, paint on a paper plate (pink, red, black, white, purple, maroon, gray), a black marker, newspaper, and a stapler
Gather all your supplies like: paper bags, paints, a palette, paintbrushes, markers, newspaper, and a stapler.

Instructions To Make a Pretend City And Paper Bag Houses

Step 1

Step 1 - Paper Bag House Craft - Painting paper bags to look like buildings in your town- the bag is being painted an aquamarine and sky blue with an orange paint brush.
Start painting your paper bags to look like buildings. Paint them to look like businesses, places of worship, houses, anything that is in your town!

First, you color the bags to look like buildings and houses. We started with painting the bags two different colors to give the appearance of a roof line. My daughter loved helping with this part.

Tip: We first did this with markers but the colors seemed dull against our craft brown paper bags. So we used paint.

Step 1a - Paper Bag House Craft Painting your paper bag houses and paper bag city- paint the brown bag (show here is yellow) using acrylic paints.
Paint the bags your favorite colors! We are making a yellow house!

The paint was much more vibrant than the markers but had the terrible feature of requiring a small amount of drying time which is oh-so-challenging for a preschooler to understand.

Step 2

Step 2- Paper Bag House Craft Starting to paint your paper bag houses and city- use acrylic paints, (yellow is shown on the palette with a paintbrush in it) to make paper bag places like houses, a hospital, police station, a cafe.
Once you’ve painted the bags, add the details! Give them roofs, make signs, windows, doors, and more with a black marker.

Now comes the fun part! Decorate the bags to look like buildings.  

Details You Can Add to Your Paper Bag Buildings

  • flowers
  • windows with or without curtains
  • doors
  • shutters
  • shingles
  • signs
  • awnings
  • architectural details like columns, arches
  • and whatever else you can think up!

Let your child come up with some ideas of what they want in their city. There could be a school, hospital, fire station, etc.

Step 3

Step 3- Paper Bag House Craft Staple paper bags to make pretend city- fill the bag with newspaper and staple the buildings shut, this one is pink and purple house.
Fill the paper bags with newspaper so they can stand upright and then staple them shut!

Then stuff the paper bags with a sheet of crumpled newspaper, fold the top edge over a few times and staple it closed.

Our Finished Paper Bag Village

dramatic play paper bag city craft and activity- a purple and pink cafe, a green and yellow house, a white and blue police station, a red and white hospital, a bright pink and polka dotted hotel.
And now we have finished our paper bag town! Complete with a house, cafe, police station, hotel, and hospital.

They make for such cute little buildings by themselves but really come to life when you line them up and add a few action figures to the scene.

Another Paper Craft: Make paper dolls

Our Experience Making Paper Bag Houses and City

After I showed my daughter how to make a few of the buildings in her pretend city, I let her paint and decorate some buildings her own way.  

Paint craft for preschool kids being done by themselves. I let my daughter paint a bag and she is painting it red, blue, black and white.
I let my little one do it on her own and she made the best paper bag city!
  • It was tempting for me to jump in and help her choose colors that went well together or help her see where the roof line would actually be.
  • But I just sat there and watched her do her own thing.  I’m so glad I did.  She was much more creative than me and chose a more vibrant color palette.
  • But most importantly, she is so proud of her creations. Even though she had helped me paint the other buildings, they just weren’t as special to her as the buildings that she designed and created herself.

Now we have a sweet little city to act out her cute little stories in.

Benefits of Pretend Play

Young children learn by looking and listening. They closely watch what those around them do. In order to process all of the information they take in, children often imitate and act out similar stories through dramatic play.  

For example, kids like play kitchens with pretend food and little tool benches with plastic tools so they can be just like Mom and Dad. Not to mention, they can practice social cues within their little city and this dramatic play activity also promotes independent play which is also important for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarten kids.

We came up with an idea for making our own little play set that looks like a pretend city. Now my daughter can act out all of her creative stories in her own little personalized town.

Dramatic Play Time! Make a Pretend City with Paper Bags

Dramatic Play Time! Make a Pretend City with Paper Bags

Dramatic play is a great way to get kids engaged in their imagination and explore the world and social cues. And what better way to do this than with a pretend city made from paper bags!

Materials

Instructions

  1. First, you color the bags to look like buildings and houses. We started with painting the bags two different colors to give the appearance of a roof line. My daughter loved helping with this part.
  2. Now comes the fun part! Decorate the bags to look like buildings. Add: flowers, windows, doors, shingles, and more!
  3. Then stuff the paper bags with a sheet of crumpled newspaper, fold the top edge over a few times and staple it closed.

More Dramatic Play Crafts and Activities From Kids Activities Blog

THE BIG BOOK OF KIDS ACTIVITIES

This toilet paper roll train craft is one of the featured kids crafts in our newest book, The Big Book of Kids Activities has 500 projects that are the bestest, funnest ever! Written for kids ages 3-12 it is the compilation of bestselling kids activities books perfect for parents, grandparents and babysitters looking for new ways to entertain kids. This toilet paper roll craft is one of over 30 classic crafts that use materials you have on hand that are featured in this book!

Book cover, The Big Book of Kids Activities which features this paper city craft
This paper village craft is one of several in our BIG BOOK of Kids Activities!

Oh! And grab The Big Book of Kids Activities printable play calendar for a year’s worth of playful fun.

How did your dramatic play paper bag city and houses turn out? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.



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16 Comments

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  2. What a cute way to make a city to learn about rural and urban settings while playing too. My daughter would love this!! Thank you for sharing and for linking up this week to the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop.

  3. Thank you for linking up this idea to ‘Share It Saturday’. I look forward to featuring another one of your ideas this weekend.