Driven by a Child’s Imagination

My daughter is six years old. The other day, she asked for a cardboard box so she could build a fairy house. She made it herself and filled it with grass and a carrot and some candy, which she thought the fairies would like. She was so excited about the idea, that after she went to bed, I made a little paper flower daisy chain and forged a note from a fairy named Daisy. I left it in the house and ate the carrot and waited to see what she would think.MAKEZINE_5FamilyFri_Badge

What she thinks is that we have a spring fairy named Daisy, and she is really, really excited about it. The rain destroyed her cardboard house, so I offered to help her make a better one.

Building a Better Fairy House

Anna started drawing her ideas on our whiteboard. I wanted to use corrugated plastic as the building material, so it would be weather proof. I had a simple sloped roof and a square floor plan in mind. Much like a birdhouse but sitting on the ground. Anna however, had other plans.

She wanted a round roof sort of like a thatched cottage and a place to hold flowers on the top. She wanted windows and a door and a whole yard decorated with little shrubberies and flowers and other things she thought a fairy would like.

I decided that an octagonal structure would get us close enough to the round look she wanted, and we got to making it.

Fairy House Template

Before you begin, download and print two copies of the Fairy House Template. Be sure when you print that you do not change the scale. The dimensional mark shows the height of the template is 4.00 inches.

Steps in Pictures

I’ve included the pictures for all the steps below for convenience. You can click on a picture to see it larger, and then scroll left and right through the steps. You will find the same pictures accompanying each step.

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Steps

Step #1: Cut the Wall Section

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  • The corrugated plastic signs I used for this project are 24 inches wide. Note that you could probably build this project with regular corrugated cardboard. It just won't be so waterproof.
  • Cut a 4 inch high by 24 inch long section from the sign.

Step #2: Mark and Cut the Wall Section

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  • Next, mark a line every 3 inches along the length of the piece you just cut.
  • Now carefully use a hobby knife or other sharp cutting tool to cut through just the top layer of the material where you marked the lines. Be careful not to cut all the way through.
  • You are creating a hinge-like bend in the material. Continue cutting the top layer at each line you marked. This piece will eventually wrap around and the two ends will join to form an octagon. That comes later.

Step #3: Cut the Floor Section

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  • Next cut a 7-1/4 inch square section from the sign material.
  • You are going to turn this square into an octagon by cutting off each corner. Each side of the octagon will be 3 inches long.
  • Mark a point along each edge of the square 2-1/8 inches in from the corners. So each edge of the square will have two marks on it, with a 3 inch section in the center of the edge and two 2-1/8 inch sections to either side. (Sorry for the poor quality of the images for this step. Anna was my photographer at this point. Check the pics in Step 5 for forming the roof octagon, they are a bit more clear.)
  • Now you will mark the diagonals by connecting each mark to the one on the closest adjacent side, forming an octagon.
  • Carefully cut each diagonal line with scissors, leaving you with an octagon that should fit just right when encircled by the wall section.

Step #4: Cut a Square for the Roof

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  • Measure and cut out a 2 inch square piece from the sign material.
  • You will turn this into a small octagon in the next step.

Step #5: Form the Roof Octagon

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  • We are going to cut a smaller octagonal piece from the 2 inch square.
  • Mark 19/32 inches in from each corner. This is similar to how we cut the floor, but I have better pictures here.
  • Now mark diagonal lines connecting each mark to the one on the closest adjacent side, forming an octagon.
  • Cut along the diagonal lines, and you have a nice octagon for the roof top.

Step #6: Cut Roof Sections and Attach Template

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  • Cut two 4 inch high sections of the sign material, each 10 inches long.
  • Take the two copies of the roof template you printed out (see main section of the project for link) and cut them out along the outer rectangular lines.
  • Align the bottom left corner of the left trapezoid on the template with the corner of the 4x10 inch sign piece and tape down the left edge. Repeat this for the other template and 4x10 inch piece.

Step #7: Cut the Roof Trapazoids

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  • Tape the top and bottom of each trapezoid on the template to the sign piece so that the template will stay in place as you cut away sections as directed below.
  • Now carefully cut out each trapezoid along the lines of the template.
  • Repeat this for the other copy of the template and the other 4x10 inch piece of sign.
  • When you are done, you should have eight trapezoids as shown. Remove the paper and tape from each section.

Step #8: Assemble the Lower House Sections

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  • Wrap the wall section around the octagonal floor section.
  • Tape the wall section where they come together so the walls will stay wrapped around the floor.

Step #9: Cut Windows and Door, Attach Floor

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  • Before we go any further, this would be a good time to cut out a door. On one side of the door, only cut through the corrugated material part way, leaving a hinge. Cut away a bit at the bottom of the door so that it can swing inward and miss the floor.
  • Make some windows too, if you like.
  • Once you have your doors and windows made, you can tape the floor to the walls from the inside using masking tape.

Step #10: Assemble the Roof Sections

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  • Place the small octagonal roof section on a flat work surface, and then lay out the trapezoidal roof sections around it.
  • Use masking tape to attach the small edge of each trapezoid section so that it is centered on a side of the octagon section.
  • Tape all eight trapezoid sections to the center.

Step #11: Form the Roof

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  • Lay the partially assembled roof sections on top of the lower house assembly. Smile, you're almost done.
  • This part helps to have someone to help you. Get eight pieces of masking tape ready. Raise the center of the roof so that it stands up and the edges of the trapezoids come close together.
  • Use the tape to hold the roof so that it will stay in its raised position. The roof should slightly overhang the walls of the house.

Step #12: Cover the House with Duct Tape

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  • Cover each seam in the roof with duct tape. We used white tape, but you could use whatever color or pattern you like.
  • Now that the roof is well reinforced, cover the whole roof so it looks nice.
  • Cover the lower house section with tape too.
  • You can decorate the inside of the house too. Anna decided that fairies would like cupcakes. Doesn't everyone like cupcakes?

Step #13: Place Your Fairy House

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  • Put your fairy house somewhere that fairies are likely to gather. Fill and surround it with stuff fairies like.
  • Enjoy your new neighbors.

Andrew Terranova

Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and an electronics and robotics hobbyist. He is an active member of the Let's Make Robots community, and handles public relations for the site. Andrew has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children's Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Learning Center in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.


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