Duct Tape Pretend Play City

If you have duct tape, play cars, and imagination then you’re ready to build your own duct tape city for hours of pretend play — at any age!

What if you took some duct tape and made roads for your cars?” I suggested this weekend.

That was approximately 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

Pretend Play City

Pretend Play City

The girls used all sorts of colorful duct tape to make roads for their cars on our carpet. (You may remember that we’ve permanently moved our furniture to the edges of the room. This is why.)

At about 9:30 a.m. I asked another question, “Do your cars need a parking lot? What about shops?”

Pretend Play City

Shops were added. A parking lot was built. More roads. A gas pump of red pipe cleaners, too.

At noon, I got out stickers and our recycle box. “I wonder what else we could make? Do we need a park? What about a lake out of this bubble wrap?”

Pretend Play City

The girls played straight through until bedtime 8 p.m. – with elaborate pretend scenarios, homes under the recliners, parents and children, even construction happened.

Pretend Play City

All I did was facilitate – asking simple questions and getting them started with new ideas to add on. I made a very tippy slide which I hope the girls will perfect with better recycled materials. Today is day three and the girls are still playing cars on their duct tape city!

What Would Vygotsky Do?

Russian, Lev Vygotsky, introduced the world to scaffolding and mature, brain-boosting pretend play.He asserts that play lasts longer and is richer when an adult facilitates the use of props, introduces vocabulary (median, one-way street, mechanic,) and models play scenarios.”You be the mayor of the city, and I’ll be a construction worker fixing this road that has a pot-hole.” You can help sustain the play by encouraging planning (How about a park?) and roles (Who is your guy?) and new concepts (I think a median is that big part in the middle of the road that’s cement or grass. Do you have any medians in your city?). (I love Vygotsky.)

What Would Your Child Say?

A friend of AJ’s walked in and said, “My mom would never let me do this.

Whether or not that’s true in there case is not important. What is important is it made me want to challenge you with this last thought: Will you be the kind of parent or caregiver that would let your child’s imaginative play take over your living room?

Because play is way more important than having the perfect house.

Pretend Play Airline
Pretend Play Grocery Store
Ideas for Pretend Play Kits


  1. says

    What fun! I like it better than the poster board city I made with my boys when they were little–every time anyone kneeled on the poster board, everything tipped and rolled. Of course, the poster board could be picked up and saved for another day, too, with all its knee creases. I believe in leaving “set ups” when it’s clean up time, at least for a while.

  2. says

    Love this fun free play (Made me laugh—duct tape was the do-everything tool of my Dad’s. It’s one of the first things I think of when I think of him). This is a great project because it’s easy to set up and it can be built upon as the creativity builds and evolves.

  3. says

    This is so funny: my kids have been using duct tape and paper to make weapons, mostly swords and bo staffs. Clearly my kids are more violent than yours! LOL LOVE the highways and creative play. Duct tape is also good for making purses out of aluminum foil. I will to post on the ones my kids made.

  4. says

    In my class we love to make tape roads. We use colored masking tape but the play is much the same. We’ve had roads wander under tables and around the room. It’s one activity that’s always big hit.

  5. Chris Wood says

    You are a trememdous mother to your kids. Tirelessly giving them the tools neccesary for critical thinking and keeping their minds engaged sans media is an awesome parent in my book! How do you find this stuff and the energy?

    • says

      HA, you’ve seen my house, right? I don’t clean much as you know. :) I am of the belief that I am not supermom and I cannot do it all. So, I let some stuff go like cleaning and laundry. :) But, thanks, Chris!

  6. says

    I love it! I’m gong to show this post to my youngest when he has a friend over tomorrow.

    One question: does the duct tape come off the rug completely?

    Interesting reference to Vygotsky too.

  7. says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea.

    Brilliant for inside, rainy-day activity. As children we had a shade tree that did not allow grass to grow beneath it and I remember as a child ‘building cities’ in the dust and dirt in that shade, day after day.

    I’m drawn to the color of the duct tape.

  8. says

    What a wonderful activity. I did this once when my son was super little. I just did a super long road. It went around the entire house. He had fun for hours. I have never done it since. You have inspired me to try it again.

  9. says

    This is so much fun! My daughter has been doing all sorts of things with duct tape ever since she was 3 or so. But this city is something we have to try. We get these in only one colour- brown. Arghh! I have to go hunting for the coloured ones – if there are any, over here…
    That mention of Vygotsky sounds interesting. Checking out the article now…


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