DIY Construction Site Play Box

The older our eldest son gets the more I want to build things for him.

I’ve been kicking around an idea for a construction site play box so he can scoop and dump rocks and pretend to be working on the new road they’re building at the end of our block.

Yesterday I made it happen during nap time and he woke up in hog heaven.

“Daddy sit! Daddy play! Five more minutes daddy! Please!”

DIY construction site play box


The plan

The idea was to create a toy that could bring construction play into the living room, and that would fit in a box so we could put the lid on, slide it into the cupboard and be done with it.

I’ve seen a few tubs filled with rocks and construction toys, but I wanted this box to have a flat surface and multiple levels where figures and vehicles could stand up properly.


The cost

The whole thing cost $30. Although the tub was 50% off.


The materials


You’ll also need paint, sandpaper, nails, screws, a drill and a saw. Although you could make something similar but less elaborate just by putting a smaller box upside-down inside the bigger box to provide that higher level.

The annoying bit where the stickers won’t come off


Please Michael’s you’re killing me!


I painted all of the wood to make it look more authentic. I used grey house paint for the concrete surfaces, and my son’s watercolors for the brown fences and red girders.


Sandpapering the road

Here are all of the painted materials laid out. To make the road more convincing I stuck sandpaper to the long plank of wood and then nailed it down (make sure you hammer back those nails, and don’t get too close to the edge or you’ll split the wood).

I think some of that grass material would be an awesome addition. Maybe next time.


Assembling the construction site

This bit takes measuring, cutting, nailing and screwing. All the fun stuff. You’ll figure it out.


Collecting rocks

This was my son’s favorite part. While my wife upgraded her iPhone at the AT&T shop we walked around the car park for half an hour picking up rocks and putting them in a bag.

At home I hosed them down and then shook them up in the bag with dishwashing soap, rinsed them, left them to dry and picked out the best ones – the ones that weren’t going to crumble, or make stains on the carpet, nothing sharp and nothing small enough to swallow. Mostly we were left with flint.

That night I took him though everything we did during the day and asked him what his favorite thing was. He said it was picking up rocks. It’s the simple things.


The finished play box

Not sure why I decided to go with a long thin art supply box, I think it was because I wanted there to be a long road, a road that ended in mid-air, like it was a bridge still being built, something a car could fly off of and land on the rocks. It’s happened more than once already.

The good thing about long and thin is that it means there feels like two ends to the sensory box to play in, and they’re very different – the rocks and the road end, and the construction site end.

The ramp

I nearly forgot. At the last minute I added a ramp from the construction site down to the rocks. The little men climb down it and the cars fly down there sometimes too. It’s a paint stirrer from Home Depot I had lying around.


Job done

In truth I probably had more fun making this construction play box than my son had playing with it, but he’s got years to keep playing with it, and now we have another son, I can really justify taking the time to get projects like this right.

It’s not perfect but it’s one of a kind.

When I woke up this morning I went and looked at it. Pride’s funny like that.

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