This one is an old favourite but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of the obvious. Making a chain of paper dolls is a quick and easy craft activity but you may be surprised at how entertaining kids can find it and how a whole afternoon can disappear in this pursuit.
You will need:
Light cardboard or sturdy paper
Pens, markers and crayons
Decorative materials such as scraps of paper and fabric, buttons, lace, trim, glitter, tin-foil, stickers, sequins etc.
Cut a strip of paper about 10 cm high and as long as you like. The longer the strip, the more dolls you will end up with.
Fold the strip of paper accordion style, making each panel about 6cm or so wide
Your (older) child can draw a figure on the top panel making sure that parts of the body (hands, feet etc) touch the sides of the panel.
Cut around the figure but don’t cut along the folds where the parts of the body touch.
Unfold the chain of dolls and then decorate with either just markers and crayons or use glue and stick on all sorts of wondrous outfits.
Older children will be quite capable of drawing their own shape on the top panel. Preschoolers may need you to draw the figure and cut out the shape but will have plenty of fun unfolding the chain and then decorating it once you are done.
Tip: A great idea is to do a little preparation before hand. Gather a bunch of fabric scraps and then cut them into little squares with pinking shears.
This makes it easy for especially little kids to create all kinds of different outfits for their dolls using the pre-cut scraps. (idea borrowed from Caroline Zoob’s Childhood Treasures book).
Strings of paper dolls can also be used for cute folded birthday party invitations which would be especially nice if you can get the guest of honour to decorate all the sets personally – perhaps a big ask. Stick them around a plain paper lampshade and you immediately add colour and fun. You could also Hang them as a mobile, or stick them to the outside of a bedroom door and use them as a name plate – one letter of the child’s name could be pasted or drawn on to each doll’s dress or stomach.
We have a page of downloadable templates for you to print out to get you started. This includes the classic doll shape (above), an alien (above), a fairy and a grizzly monster.