Friday, 6 March 2015

Thinking inside the box: Make a cardboard zoo


I was tossing out the box from our new TV into the recycling, when this idea I’d seen years ago popped into my head. I grabbed the box back!

“Fancy making a zoo?” I asked my daughter. Her eyes lit up. Never needs her arm twisted to do something creative, that one.

We scooped up all the toy animals we could find around the house to see how many enclosures we'd need: 11 species (if we discounted the dinosaurs). Mmm, looking at the size of the box, the enclosures would have to be quite small and cramped. Never mind, it could be a retro, old-fashioned kind of zoo, where space and animal welfare weren't as high on the agenda as they are these days.

We remembered we had this old Topsy and Tim book (1968!) and flicked through it for inspiration. 
Oh yes, this was perfect: a zoo where you could still ride on elephants ...
... and the zoo keeper didn't mind if you fed your sandwiches to the hippos. 
We got to work.

We started by cutting strips of cardboard and taping them them down to make the enclosures. Then we coloured in the bottoms: green for grass, blue for water, brown for mud. 
“Should the hippo have more water or more land?” pondered my daughter. “Mmm, when we went to the zoo in Warsaw, they definitely had more water,” she decided.
She did a brilliant job with the entrance and cleverly used a little flap that happened to be there as a moveable barrier for when the zoo was open ...
... and closed.
The cut-off end of a foil box made the perfect ticket office and we agreed that ticket prices should be in pre-decimal money like Topsy and Tim would have used. She went off to ask daddy (!) how much he thought it cost to go to the zoo 'in the old days'. 
She also found this little stretchy man who was just the right size to make a very enthusiastic ticket seller.
Signs were added so that visitors could decide whether to take the path to the left ... 
... or the right first.
A camembert box doubled as the sea lion’s pool and rocks were grabbed from the garden for him to sit on ... 
... as well as for the crocodiles. “Ooh, look at that stone,” she said, pointing to the round, speckled one on the left. “That can be a crocodile egg.” 
Greenery was grabbed from the garden too. “We need bamboo for the panda," she said ...
 "... and trees for the giraffe to eat."
A scrap of Indian fabric was put on the back of the elephant that was chosen to give the rides, and he was tied up with a pipe cleaner to stop him stampeding through the zoo. “Poor old elephant,” said my daughter. “He doesn’t like all those pesky kids riding on his back."
This Playmobil pilot made a great zoo keeper. And a piece of red plasticine became a lump of meat for the lion’s feeding time.
And now the zoo was ready for its first visitor. Shaking hands with a bear? All part of the entertainment at this zoo!
Finally, later, when we were having our roast dinner, my daughter decided the bones from the chicken would be good for the tigers’ enclosure. “Oh, they’re a bit too big, actually,” she said as she put them in. “Oh well … previously eaten children!” she laughed.

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If you like this, you might like the cardboard marble run featured at the end of this post.

21 comments:

  1. Oh that's fantastic - I love all the little details, especially the eaten children!!

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    1. Thanks Carie. I think eaten children were probably quite common at zoos in the 1960s!

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  2. This is wonderful - My son caught sight of this as I was reading and he has already run off to do an inventory of his animal collection! Fun day today!!! ;o) Thanks so much for sharing! xxx

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  3. Ah, bless him! I would LOVE to see your finished zoo! Have fun!

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  4. Brilliant idea! So creative and looks like a heap of fun.

    Thanks also for linking up to #WASO x

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Yep, great idea, to which I give credit to:
      http://tangarangblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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  5. You are an amazing mom, Claire. This is so clever and creative - never in a million years would I have thought of this. Your daughter had to be absolutely thrilled sharing this project you. It really turned out great - you didn't miss a single detail.

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    1. Thank you Susan! It wasn't my idea though (see link in post and in above comment for origin of idea!). Was great fun to execute though, and my daughter is still adding details!

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  6. Oh, I just love this!!! Couldn't be a better use for a box!!

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  7. If you make on Julie, send me a picture!

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  8. Haaa!! The ticket seller is very enthusiastic! :)
    Great job, thanks for the wonderful idea!

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    1. Oh yes, he welcomes you with open arms!

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  9. Oh, I love that zoo! What a fab idea and you've done it so well with so many little ideas to add to it. I want to go and make something like this now.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

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    1. I definitely enjoyed making it as much as my daughter!

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  10. My two would love doing this. Thank you so much for the inspiration #LetKidsBeKids

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  11. What a great little zoo! Lovely to see the effort you and daughter have put into it! #LetKidsBeKids

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  12. Thank you! The fun's in the detail!

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