DIY Barn

My cousin's daughter, E, is adorable and I wanted to do something fun with her because at our Christmas party, she freaked out because she's afraid of dogs. And even though George Michael barely even looked at her, she was stressed out the entire night. I didn't want her childhood memories of me to be associated with fear and stress so after I found out she loves arts and crafts, I thought it would be a great way to bond (and hopefully reduce the trauma of her visiting our house and being terrified of George Michael). After all, I'm a huge fan of arts and crafts.

So, I thought playing with modeling clay would be fun. And then I took it a step farther and decided it would be fun to make animals and give them a place to live. So, I made a barn using some leftover cardboard from the dozens of packages I ordered over the holiday season.
It turned out super cute and E had a lot of fun.

You'll need:
small cardboard box as a base
large pieces of cardboard to construct the barn
X-acto knife
acrylic paint
hot glue
This isn't a super instructional post but just a photo diary so you could get the gist of what I did.
I started by sketching out the concept before actually cutting out any cardboard. Once I decided on the layout and dimensions, I used a ruler and pen to draw onto the cardboard, taking into account the tabs I would need to glue the pieces together.
I used an X-acto knife to cut out the whole thing and to score the bent edges.
I cut out some trim pieces and then started painting everything.
Once everything was dry, I started gluing the pieces together.
It came together pretty wonderfully and I even made two floors within the barn. I painted a little scene onto a smaller, shallow box, which I thought would be perfect for storing any additional clay and the little figurines.
My sister and I brought the barn, a multicolored package of Crayola model magic, and a bag of googly eyes and E loved it! Her younger brother A was also pretty enthusiastic, but more about smashing the clay than playing with it. It made E rather whiny but that just meant we had to distract him with some other pieces.
This is E's octopus. I asked her, "Oh, do octopuses live in ponds on a farm?" and she answered, "Yes," in a v. 'duh'-ish way.
She also made a giant fish and mermaid to join the octopus in the barn. I made a pig and a cat, my sister made a pig and a bird, and E made an elephant, horse, cat, and pig. She had so much fun and I had so much fun.

I feel like it would have been easy enough for me to premake the animals for her to play pretend with but I think she loved it so much more to actually make the figurines herself and I was super impressed by her artistic skills.
Isn't she the cutest?