How to Make a Paper Model of a Community

By Camela Bryan ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Poster board
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Markers
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
Start with a drawing of a map to build a paper model of your community.

Elementary school-aged students study the different types of communities. Students can make a paper model of a community as a hands-on social studies project. For example, a model of a historic community would be a good project for an older student's history fair. You can use standard school supplies to make a model community with many different types of buildings.

Make a "master plan," or map, of your community in pencil on poster board. Designate areas of you board for different uses such as recreation, commercial use and residential use. Draw roads and rail lines to connect the different areas. Mark the location of your buildings.

Go over your roads and fields with marker when you are pleased with their location. Draw any other details as desired.

Cut the paper for a building. Calculate the height of the paper by adding 1 inch to the desired height. Calculate the width of the paper by multiplying the desired width by four and adding a half-inch. For example, if you want the building to be a 1-inch cube, the height will be 2 inches, and the width will be 4 1/2 inches. Cut a piece of paper with these dimensions. These buildings will have a square bottom.

Place the paper so the height dimension is on the side. Measure a half-inch from one side along the top and bottom edge of the paper. Draw a vertical line to connect these points. Fold the paper along this line. Crease the fold. You now have a half-inch flap along the side of the paper.

Fold the paper in half by bringing the folded edge of the flap over to meet the other side edge. Crease the fold, and unfold the paper. Fold both side edges in to meet the crease you made down the middle of the paper. Crease both folds, and unfold the paper. You will have four vertical folds.

Draw a horizontal line a half-inch from the top of the paper. Cut along each of the vertical creases you made earlier, from the top edge of the paper to the line you just drew, cutting four half-inch slits along the top edge of the paper. Draw a line a half-inch from the bottom of the paper, and cut slits along the bottom edge of the paper in the same way.

Fold the paper in along both lines. Glue the a half-inch flap on the side to the other side edge of the paper, creating a box with flaps folded in at the top and bottom.

Fold a small piece of paper in half to make a peaked roof, and glue it to a top flap on each side to make a peaked roof or glue on a small piece of paper for a flat roof. Add details such as doors and windows with a marker. Glue the building to your poster board. Make paper buildings in various sizes to complete your community.


Make a building with a rectangular footprint by adding the length plus the width and multiplying by two. Add a half-inch for the flap. Cut a rectangle of paper this width and the desired height plus 1 inch. Mark the desired width and length on the top and bottom edges of the paper and fold at these points. Finish the building as you did the square building.

About the Author

Camela Bryan's first published article appeared in "Welcome Home" magazine in 1993. She wrote and published SAT preparation worksheets and is also a professional seamstress who has worked for a children's theater as a costume designer and in her own heirloom-sewing business. Bryan has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.