I recently made some cardboard playhouses for the kids, and got to thinking that miniature toy versions would make good use of some empty cereal boxes I’ve been hanging on to. These tiny houses even fold down flat, so I can easily tuck them into our restaurant activity bag along with some mini figures for spur-of-the-moment, creative play when the kids start getting restive while waiting on dinner.

To make your own mini cardboard houses, you will need:

Printable template
X-acto knife
Ruler
Bone folder (not necessary, but really handy)
Cereal box
Tape (plain Scotch tape or decorative)
Origami paper and a glue stick (optional)

Step 1: Print out template and cut out. You can use scissors, but running an X-acto knife along a ruler makes precise, quick cuts.

Step 2: Cut out the front and back of a cereal box.

Step 3: Trace template onto kraft, non-printed side of cereal box board. Then cut this out.

Step 4: First fold in half. This center point is the roof. Then fold inward along the rest of the areas indicated by dotted lines. A bone folder helps to make sharp creases.

Step 5: Once the house has taken shape, you will see that the floor and back wall of the house are split. Collapse the house by tucking the floor flaps up and in, while flattening the back wall flaps outward. Align the back flaps precisely, then tape together. Open up the house again.

Step 6: Align the floor flaps (as in the picture to the right below) and tape together. Now that the split tabs are taped together, the house can collapse and open back up. The bottom folds in, and the back folds out — see example two images down.

Step 7: If you’re feeling ambitious, line the insides with patterned or origami paper. This step was a bit time-consuming, so maybe kids can decorate with pieces of washi tape instead. Or, just leave the inside as is! To stow houses away, collapse and secure together with rubber bands.