Growing-up, my sister and I played with paper dolls, a lot. My mum and aunt showed us how to create our own dolls AND how to design and make their outfits. While pregnant in Hawaii, I found Hawaiian paper dolls and looked forward to introducing them to my children.
I did a collaboration with a few other Montessori mums this past Halloween and one for them shared an idea of dressing skeletons. A light bulb went off and I couldn’t wait to modify it and create my own version of “paper dolls” for the girls that would be perfect for their current skills.
One of the the things I love about paper dolls is that they are extremely portable and the clothing isn’t permanent. Unlikes magnetic dolls that T had, it’s much easier to create and modify them, their clothing, and their environment. (Here are magnetic dolls I am consider purchasing the girls for their birthday in June.) One Christmas my sister and I were given static cling vinyl dolls and, while they were a blast, they didn’t work as well and we couldn’t create anything for them. So paper dolls reminded a favourite. But as awesome as they are, they are a little on the fragile side and not really durable enough for two energetic, eager toddlers. So on to the modified toddler version.
It was important to create a diverse group of dolls for the girls. So I ordered this paper for more accurate skin tone colours. The black, white, red, yellow, and brown paper from the average construction paper mix is far from accurate and should not be used to represent real people. However, they will make some wonderful outfits.
I drew a template (I’ll include a free print below) and cut out a few different dolls. I didn’t want the doll size to be too small or too big, so I settled on one that would be about half the size of standard paper. This would allow the clothing to be the perfect size, too.
I then made a few basic outfits: pant with shirts, and dresses (I’ll include a few of these with the doll template print). I plan on adding additional options in time. I also plan on creating dolls with interchangeable emotional faces, too–but that won’t be for some time.
*Another option is to take a photo of your child, size it to the desired size and print it out. Then they have a much more realistic, look-a-like, doll. You could do the same with some of their favourite outfits.*
Once I had the dolls and outfits ready, I laminated them all.
*Important* You want to make sure that you apply the same side of the Velcro to all the outfits and the opposite side to your dolls, so that they stick. I used the soft loop side for the outfits and the hook for the dolls. This will help limit the collection of random hair as the doll will probably always be wearing an outfit.
I kept the dolls and clothing rather simple, you can make them as elaborate as your skills take you (isn’t that so awesome!). We are working a lot on the primary colours, so that’s what paper I used for their clothing choices. Then we can practice our colours, “E, I see your doll is wearing the YELLOW jumper. V, I see you put the RED dress on your doll.”
The girls are really enjoying their dolls. We only use them supervised though as E really enjoys taking stickers, including velcro, off items and that would be a choking hazard.
Did you enjoy paper dolls when you were younger? Do you think your child would enjoy this version?
paper-doll-template-pdf (I recommend printing on card stock for sturdy tracing.)