Simple Paper Crafts for Kids
Fine Motor Skill Development
Simple paper crafts are great for kids. The equipment you will need is inexpensive. Paper crafts help kids to develop their fine motor skills and are fun, both for the children and for their teachers, helpers or parents.
Paper quality varies greatly, so it is important, whether tearing or cutting, that the paper you choose is not too thick or it can be very frustrating for small fingers. The other thing to remember is that some papers that look really attractive are not suitable as they are not really paper, but materials that are great for wrapping gifts. This can be very difficult for kids to tear or cut.
- Paper: Even white paper will do, but there is such a variety available of plain coloured, patterned and paper impregnated with sparkles and other attractive additions, that it is a good idea to see which would be suitable for the project you have in mind for the children.
- Scissors: They do need to be sharp, as blunt scissors can be very frustrating for children. If the kids are not used to handling scissors, some safety rules while they are being used would be helpful. Make sure the scissors are not the pointy kind, but have rounded ends to the blades, as these are safer. Finally, if working with a group, make sure that if there are any left-handed kids you have left-handed scissors available for them, otherwise cutting can become difficult and laborious for those children.
- Ruler and Pencil: A ruler and pencil are often useful for measuring for more advanced, but still relatively simple paper crafts.
- Glue: Some child-safe glue, a small stapler and a reel of sticky-tape are useful, depending on your preference. Some projects need to be held together. Also, when kid's efforts go wrong, sometimes some glue or sticky-tape can save disappointment.
How to Make Your Own Glue: If you have no child-safe glue, you can make your own homemade glue in only a few minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of water to 3 tablespoons of plain flour in a small saucepan. Mix well. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. If it becomes too thick, add more water. When the mixture turns clear it is done. Cool before use. You can add some disinfectant or salt if you plan on keeping your glue for a few days.
The simplest paper craft for kids is paper tearing. It requires both dexterity, thinking about and planning on the part of the child. The only material you need is paper. However, remember that small fingers may not be very strong so it is best to choose fairly soft paper that is easy to tear.
In the photographs, I have used the one paper tear, but in reality, these can be two different activities and the end results can be very different. The aim of paper tearing can be to produce something that is intended to be useful, or else simply aesthetically pleasing, such as the butterfly. There are some lovely soft coloured papers available that have sparkles, or you could add the sparkles afterwards.
- Butterfly: Fold a square of paper in half diagonally; crease the line firmly; cut along this line to make a triangle. Fold the triangle in half. Fold again evenly in thirds, folding one small triangle so it is turning back and one folding forward. Tear little pieces out along the edges and even in the centre. Unfold and you have a butterfly. You can paint with a little glue and add glitter for extra fun.
- Snowflake: This can be made in the same way as the butterfly, except that after the first fold you do not cut the paper.
- Table-mat: Either a square or rectangle of paper can be used. Fold the paper in squares or rectangles. The number of folds you (or the children) make will depend on how easy the paper is to tear. Try it first, so you do not make it too difficult for the kids. If you use plain paper, the children could draw or paint on the paper first. Unfold and you have a table-mat for a special occasion or a special guest for dinner. Table-mats can also be made by cutting with a pair of scissors, instead of tearing.
Paper Crafts Using Scissors
There is quite a range of articles that can be made using just paper, a pair of scissors a ruler and pencil. Here I will give two examples, but there are several other items that could be made. The simple basket is quite easy as there is not a lot of folding, while the star requires more exact folding and measuring.
How to Make a Paper Basket: For this project you will need paper, a pair of scissors, a ruler and a pencil.
- Fold a fairly strong piece of paper in half.
- Rule two lines along it about 6 cm apart and about 18 cm long.
- Draw a wavy line along each end, finishing in a half-circle decoration as in the photograph.
- Cut around this shape.
- Separate the two pieces. On one piece cut a slit from each of the ends about 1 1/2 cm long, level with the side edges. You will have 4 slits. On the other piece, cut slits about 1 1/2 cm long, but continuing along the side into the half-circle. You will have four slits.
- Fold both shaped pieces 6 cm from either end, forming a base of 6 cm. Place one piece across the other and join together by sliding the slits together.
- The finished basket can be decorated with stickers. If decorating the basket with drawings, this is best done before slits are joined. Then complete the basket.
How to Make a Star: This requires fairly accurate measuring and folding, but you still only need a square of paper, a pair of scissors, a ruler and a pencil. Make sure the paper is fairly thin, otherwise it will be difficult to cut. A piece of yellow paper that is a square of about 18 cm would be good.
- Fold the square in half diagonally.
- Label the points of the folded side A and B. Mark the top point C.
- Measure the long, folded side of the triangle, find the centre and mark it with an X.
- Measuring from C, make a mark 1/4 of the distance between C and B and label it D.
- Taking B across to the left, fold a line between X and D (B will protrude beyond the line AC). Crease the line firmly.
- Turn the construction over and, keeping the edges even, fold A to X.
- Make a mark about 1/4 of the distance from X to A (This will be on the left).
- Cut from this mark up towards the right to the fold that is about 1/4 of the distance between B and X.
- Unfold and you have a beautiful five-pointed star.
Simple Folding, Cutting and Glueing
How to Make a Paper Lantern
To make a lantern you will need a rectangle of coloured paper. A4 works quite well. Otherwise you will need two squares of about 20 cm, as extra is needed for the handle. You will also need the ruler and pencil, a pair of scissors and glue. If you are using a rectangle, Fold it to make a square and cut off the surplus paper. Retain this and cut a strip from it that is 1 cm wide for the handle. If using a second square of paper, cut a strip 1 cm wide from that for the handle.
- Fold the square of paper in half lengthwise.
- With the ruler and pencil, rule a border along the sides 2 cm wide.
- Rule lines 1 cm wide between the borders along the length of the rectangle.
- Cut along these lines, making sure that you stop at the border.
- Unfold and glue the two sides together.
- Glue on the handle at one end.
- At Christmas you can make red and white lanterns. They look great on the Christmas tree.
How to Do Paper Weaving
To make this woven mat you will need two squares of contrasting colours, a pair of scissors, ruler and pencil and glue or sticky-tape. I used 14 cm squares. If you use a different size you will need to adjust the measurements, but otherwise the instructions apply.
- Fold the base colour in half.
- Rule a line 2 cm wide at the top for the border.
- Now rule lines 2 cm apart across the paper, stopping at the border at the top.
- Cut along these 6 lines.
- Unfold. These strips are called the warp.
- Using the contrasting paper rule lines 2 cm apart and cut this into strips. These strips are called the weft.
- Weave these strips of weft in and out the warp strips, so that your mat looks a bit like a checker-board. You will need to be gentle with the final weft strips, to keep them flat without tearing the warp.
- When your mat looks good, make sure the ends are even. Glue or sticky-tape them down.
- You have a lovely mat that can be used in many different ways.
There are many other simple craft projects that kids can make with only a few, inexpensive materials and the benefits of improving fine motor skills, including cutting, are great. Of course, there is origami, too, but that is in a different category. The measuring can include using a ruler accurately and mathematical calculations are also good. Lastly, it can be so much fun, both for the children and the adults to be involved together in such projects.