Being stuck in the house all day doesn't mean you have to spend your time staring at the same old walls. Instead, you can build new ones. With a few magazine and file storage boxes (sold at most office supply stores and discount department stores), you can construct an entire play village in an afternoon.
To construct each building, use a ruler and marker to draw rooflines, window openings, and doors on an unassembled magazine box. For variety, you can set the peak of the roof off center 2 or 3 inches as we did for some of the buildings pictured above. Cut the cardboard (a parent's job) along the lines and remove the side flap. Then assemble the box. For a long, narrow building, assemble and mark a file storage box, as shown, and cut along the lines.
For the roof, cut out a piece of corrugated cardboard. To figure out the dimensions, first measure the length of the upper edge of the front wall and add a couple of inches for an overhang. Then measure the width of the side wall, again adding an inch or so. Fold the cardboard to create the roof peak and glue it in place atop the building. If needed, loosely apply strips of masking tape to hold the roof in place until the glue dries.
Now you can paint the roofs, window trim, shutters, and doors and add any other details you desire. For example, you can glue on a cardboard steeple to create a church or fill a barn with packing-paper straw. For the finishing touches, cut out a village green from poster board or construction paper to arrange the buildings around and add paper stepping-stone paths. For a fence, cut out a bunch of small corrugated cardboard pickets and string them together with dental floss or twine.