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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.
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?
Build the backdrop for imaginative summer small world play by crafting a cardboard city neighborhood, foldout city landscape, or chic mid-century-style DIY scrap wood beach dollhouse. Or round out your small-world play accessory collection with a diverse set of DIY peg people your kids can make themselves!
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 Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- 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
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon or Woodpecker Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!