Do you ever look at a building and wonder who lives there? Or wish you had X-Ray vision to see inside? In this lift-the-flap illustration exercise, you can use your imagination to create characters living inside a building, your interior design skills to create their home, and your architect’s intellect to decorate the outside of the building, creating an amazing interactive work of art that combines inside and outside.

Step by step

Step 1: Setting Up

Download and print out the activity sheet (click the ‘download teacher and parents resource pack for this activity’ link above) – making sure to print it single-sided. In total you should have 4 pieces of A4 paper – 2 of the outside of the house (top and bottom) and 2 of the inside of the house (top and bottom). 

If you don’t have a printer or want to start from scratch, you can just use the activity sheet as a guide. You want to end up with an image of the outside of the building, that goes across 2 pieces of A4 paper, and an image of the inside of the building that lines up with the outside and also goes across 2 pieces of paper.  On the activity sheet there is 6 floors in total, so each A4 sheet is divided into 3 floors.

Step 2: Inventing your Characters

On a separate piece of paper, create some characters to live in your building. You could have different people living on each floor, or have one person or family that owns the whole building!

Think about the age, job, personality and interests of your characters.  You can either draw these or write them down – whatever you find most inspiring. 

Step 3: Interior Design Time

Now you have your characters, it’s time to design their homes! Using the interior sheets, create a room on each floor using collage and drawing.

Think about how you can show their personality through their home through things like:
– Wallpaper
– Furniture
– Pictures on the wall
– Ornaments
– Pets

For example – you might have somebody living in your building that loves cats – they could have a pet cat, photos of cats on the wall, fuzzy furniture. Or you might have a nature lover with floral wall paper and lots and lots of plants.

Tip! Try cutting out images of furniture and objects and adding these to your images.

Step 4: Think Like an Architect

Time to decorate the exterior (outside) of your building! You could think about:

  • The colour of the walls, roof and door
  • What the building is made of. Is it bricks? tiles? mud and straw?
  • Whether the building is plain or patterned
  • If there is any other interesting details on the building – these could be street lamps, signs, pipes and wiring, plants, graffiti. Do these details give a clue to the location of the building and who lives there?
  • Are any of your characters on the balconies or in the windows?

Step 5: Construction

Now it’s time to construct your lift the flap house!

A. Take the two interior sheets and sellotape them together.

B. Then take the two exterior sheets and cut along the grey dashed lines. 

C. Take the first floor of the exterior sheet and fold it along the line on the left. Glue the edge and

D. Stick it to the first interior floor. 

Repeat this with all the other floors until your building is complete!

Tip! If you want to add an extra element of inside-meets-outside to your image, you could experiment with cutting out the windows on the outside pages. This way you can see a sneak peak of the inside from outside! Get a parent or guardian to help you with this as it can be fiddly.

Lucia Vinti is an illustrator and writer who makes work about people, places and culture for both children and adults. She is currently writing and illustrating her first activity book which will be out next year.

Instagram: @lucia.vinti

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