As a child, I had a love of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, and I have definitely passed on that love to my kids! In addition to my car collection, I made all sorts of pretend locations out of flat pieces of cardboard that lied flat on the floor, including a fire station, a store, and a gas station.
I want to make the same pretend places for my kids, but with something a bit more substantial than a flat piece of cardboard. My first three-dimensional model that I’m tackling is a gas station, and I wrote down the steps so you can build one too. It’s easy! And your kids will love it.
o 30″ x 30″ flat piece of cardboard
o 8″ x 11″ flat piece of cardboard
o 8″w x 11″l x 8″h cardboard box
o Four 1 1/2″w x 6″h strips of cardboard
o Hot glue gun with glue sticks
o Tape measure
o Razor knife
o Sharpie black marker
o Brown colored pencil
First, you want to figure out an overall layout. Think about how a real gas station is configured. Usually the pumps are simply placed in front of the main building. That’s how I planned out my station. You can lay out your station however you like.
Take your box and cut all four opening flaps off. A sharp razor knife is great for this, but be careful! On one side of the box, trace out three openings that are 3″w x 4″h, then cut out the cardboard with your razor knife. These will serve as the mechanic bay openings. Scissors are great for any minor cardboard cuts that you need to make.
Use one of the longer flaps that you cut off the box, and place it inside the box (see picture below). This acts as a stop for the cars so they don’t roll all the way inside during play. Then from another flap that you cut off, cut another piece of cardboard and place it inside the box for stability (also shown below). Glue the pieces in place.
Now is probably a great time to decorate the box, which will serve as the gas station building. You can decorate this however you want. I kept mine simple by drawing in some windows, a front door, some brown color along the bottom of the building, and signs above the mechanic bay openings. My idea here is to let my kids do the bulk of the decorating once the gas station is completed, as they have their own cool ideas about how this gas station should look.
Next, glue the building to the base! After the building is attached, use your black marker and draw sidewalks and parking spaces around the building.
The final piece is the gas pump cover. Take your four 1 1/2″w x 6″h strips of cardboard, and glue two “T” columns (See picture below). Then glue the columns where they should be located on the 36″ x 36″ base. Once they’re dry, glue the 8″ x 11″ flat piece of cardboard to the top of the columns. Then draw in any border that you want around the pumps.
I again kept things simple and drew in some gas pumps. You can do that or make some cardboard pumps. If I did that I’d probably form a couple of small rectangular boxes of cardboard and glue them to the base where pumps would go.
That’s it! The gas station as you see it pictured in this article is complete. Again, I chose to keep things simple and let my kids do the final decorating, but you can do more if you wish! As you can see, there’s plenty of room on the base for additions, like a main sign, an air pump for your tires, or even a vacuum. Just imagine what’s included in a real gas station for inspiration.
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