Use recycled household supplies to make a miniature swimming pool (that holds real water!) for imaginative summer small world play. | from barley & birch
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All, Make

Make: A DIY Miniature Swimming Pool for Small World Play

June came in hot this year – nine days over ninety and counting! It’s been one of those weeks when it’s hard to be outside unless you’re in a lake or pool. Since I don’t have either in my backyard, I decided to beat the heat INSIDE…searching through our recycling bin for scraps I could use to build our very own DIY miniature pool.

Use recycled household supplies to make a miniature swimming pool (that holds real water!) for imaginative summer small world play. | from barley & birch
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I was able to reuse the background from our summer swim playdough invitation and scrap supply pool art (along with a cardboard box and plastic takeout food container) for this 3D swimming pool. And not only is it ridiculously adorable – it’s absolutely perfect for summer small world play. And even better…it’s waterproof (!!!) so kiddos can actually fill our mini-pool with real water. After all, on a hot day, there’s nothing more fun than adding water, right?

Use recycled household supplies to make a  miniature swimming pool (that holds real water!) for imaginative summer small world play. | from barley & birch
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Build the backdrop for imaginative summer small world play by crafting a cardboard city neighborhood and a foldout city landscape background for your swimming pool. Or go for the gold standard of summer mini play with a chic mid-century-style DIY scrap wood beach dollhouse!

To make your own DIY miniature pool you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few affiliate links from Amazon and/or Woodpecker Crafts for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • A cardboard box (if you don’t have something appropriate, white pizza boxes like these work perfectly)
  • A clear plastic takeout container
  • A piece of blue construction paper and white crayon (for the pool bottom)
  • Scissors (I use this kind for cutting cardboard and plastics)
  • A hot glue gun
  • Electrical tape

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

  • Scrap cardboard and/or craft foam for details like the pool floats we added
  • Popsicle sticks (if you’d like to add a ladder like ours)
  • Wooden peg doll people like these

DIY Recycled Miniature Pool Instructions:

  1. Gather your recycled supplies

    For the waterproof pool, I simply recycled a plastic takeout container. For the pool “foundation,” look for a cardboard box that’s larger than your takeout container and also shallow – something closer to a pizza box than a shoebox. I happened to have a white gift box that worked perfectly, but you can use any color. You can leave your box as is, cover with paint, or stamp with a small square stamp to create a tile pattern.

  2. Trace around your takeout container on your cardboard box

    Center your takeout food container on the cardboard box (open side down). Use a pencil to trace around the outside of the container.

    Trace around your takeout container on your cardboard box
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  3. Cut the hole for your pool out of the top of the box

    Cutting about an eighth of an inch in from your pencil outline, use a utility knife or heavy scissors to cut a hole out of the top of your box. We’ll insert the takeout container into the hole, so you don’t want it to be cut wider than the sides of your plastic container!

    Cut the hole for your pool out of the top of the box
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  4. Draw the paper pool bottom

    Just as we did for our paper pool art, use a white crayon or oil pastel to make a wobbly grid on a blue piece of cardstock or construction paper. This will give our pool that realistic, ready-for-swimming touch!

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  5. Glue the paper pool bottom to the underside of your takeout container

    Using a hot glue gun, glue the paper pool bottom to the OUTSIDE of your clear plastic container.

    Glue the paper pool bottom to the underside of your takeout container
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  6. Insert your “pool” and cover all edges with strips of electrical tape

    Gently push your pool into the hole in the box, then use a strip or two of electrical tape along each edge to hold your pool in place.

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  7. Add cute details (and water!)

    Now it’s time to make this a pool party! Add people, pool floats (craft foam works well for those) background scenery, anything you want. Lastly, don’t forget to pour in a cup or two of water!

I was running short on time, so our peg people are simple as can be, but for some adorable inspiration, visit the swimmer peg people the creative geniuses over at Mr. Printables made!

Use recycled household supplies to make a  miniature swimming pool (that holds real water!) for imaginative summer small world play. | from barley & birch
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Feeling inspired by our summery recycled cardboard play? Visit our collection of DIY cardboard dollhouses, collaged cardboard stacking castles, or an upcycled shoebox nature explorer’s kit for more.

Use recycled household supplies to make a  miniature swimming pool (that holds real water!) for imaginative summer small world play. | from barley & birch
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Use recycled household supplies to make a miniature swimming pool (that holds real water!) for imaginative summer small world play. | from barley & birch
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