Shoe Box Farmyard Small World Play

Kids can have fun role playing life on the farm with this small world activity. Provide opportunities for kids to imagine and create in a shoebox farmyard you can make together.

farm pretend play and craft for kids

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What's happening on the farm today? Anything you can imagine!

This small world play activity gives kids the opportunity to explore life on the farm. Building the farm is an important part of the play: deciding on the characters you want on the farm; creating the characters and other props; positioning the animals and other characters on the farm.

This creative play supports language and fine motor skills, as kids build a farmyard and tell stories about the characters. The barn is made with a shoe box, while the figures and accessories are made with household items and basic craft supplies.

What's happening on the farm? The horses are munching fresh oats in their stalls, the pigs are exploring the barnyard, and Farmer Ben is showing off his new straw hat. 

You can make all this and more in this exciting farm yard play!

Farmyard small world play

Building a barn is the first step in creating your farmyard small world. Use any size shoe box, or similar box, you have on hand. 

Save the lid to make a craft tray!


1. Make the barn.


Farm small world play barn craft

                                                 Front view                                               Back view

Front view:

Set a shoe box on its side.

Cut a piece of cardboard equal to the depth of the box and longer than the length of the box to make a roof/hayloft.

Bend the cardboard in three places as shown: 1) on each side 2) in the middle to form a peak.

Secure the roof/hayloft to the barn on either side with tape. 

Back view:

Cut a piece of cardboard to fit the opening created by the roof. Glue in place and secure with tape.                        

Now it's time to add animals, a farmer, and more!


Shoe box farmyard activity for preschoolers small world play


2. Set up the farmyard.

Spread a piece of felt or cardboard next to the barn to define the farmyard space. You could also use a sheet of craft foam or burlap cloth for the ground area.

Modeling clay and solid foam packing provide supports for the farmer, the animals, and the other props, so kids can move the pieces around the farmyard.

Here is a list of materials we used to make characters and props. You can substitute whatever you have on hand. I offer some options throughout the steps.

  • craft sticks
  • green and brown felt
  • burlap fabric
  • foam packing
  • clothes peg
  • bottle cork
  • chenille stem
  • modeling clay


Pull threads from burlap fabric to make straw for the stalls and hayloft. You could also cut up thin strips of paper to make straw.


Here is our recent post with a tutorial for making cardboard animals.


Cut a trunk from brown felt and a tree top from green felt.  Glue the trunk and tree top to a piece of cardboard. Support the tree in a base made with modeling clay.

You could also make a cardboard tree that you color with paint, markers, or crayons.


Farmyard craft for small world play


Paint a cork stopper pink for the body of the pig.

Attach two small pieces of pink chenille stem to the underside of the cork with a stapler or glue gun. Bend the chenille stems to form legs.

Cut the face and ears together (in one piece) from craft foam. Glue a smaller piece of foam on top of the face for the nose. Make eyes and nostrils with a fine point marker.

Curl a small piece of pink chenille stem for a tail. Attach with a glue gun.

Farmer Ben 

Glue denim fabric on the wooden clothes peg to make a farmer dressed in overalls. 

Glue a small piece of burlap fabric to the top of the clothes peg for a straw hat. Fray the edges of the burlap to make a brim for the hat.

Support the farmer in a piece of modeling clay.


Glue wooden craft sticks together to form two posts with two or three rails attached. We used natural fence around the enclosure and painted gates at the stalls.

Support the fence in pieces of solid foam packing.


shoe box farm kids craft


There are lots of farmyard stories waiting to be told! Start with a shoe box, add a mixture of recyclables, craft supplies, and imagination, and have fun with the small world farmyard you and the kids create together. 


Farmyard small world play for kids


Preschool Lesson Plans
Farm Unit 

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Farm unit lesson plan


 Pretend Play on Pinterest 



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