Want simple projects to keep little fingers busy? Read on for instructions to a whole bunch of boredom busters that mostly require a sheet of paper and an active imagination.

By Diane Dragan
October 05, 2005

Basic Plane (EASY)

  1. Take a rectangular piece of paper.
  2. Fold it in half by bringing the long sides together (to form a skinny rectangle).
  3. With the fold at the bottom, take the upper right, open corner and bring it down to create a triangle shape (with the point touching the fold).
  4. Flip the model over and do the same thing with the upper left corner.
  5. Push up the triangle "wings" and, holding on to the long fold, toss. Whee!

More Fun

Color your planes with stars, make passenger windows and doors, draw in a small pilot and crew. Use different types of paper and have plane races to see which ones fly farther.

Deluxe Plane (HARDER)

  1. Make a Basic Plane.
  2. With the wings flattened down, take the triangle fold and bring it to the long plane fold to create a skinny triangle.
  3. Flip the model over and do the same thing on the other side.
  4. Experiment with different folds--try making the wings even more narrow, or take the single edge of the triangle of the wings and bend it up or down to create wind resistance. Another experiment could be bending the nose of the plane to flatten it out; or bending the tail to make more complicated drags and folds.

More Fun

As with the Basic Plane, decorate your jets and race them. If you are playing with an older child, paper clip the nose of the plane underneath the wings (at the long plane fold) or try gluing cardboard reinforcements to the wings and then taping pennies, one to each wing, to see how they affect flight.

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Basic Butterfly (EASY)

  1. Take a square piece of paper.
  2. Fold it in half by bringing two points together (to form a triangle).
  3. Fold the triangle in half along the long side (to form a smaller triangle).
  4. Undo your last fold so your shape is the same as at the end of step #2, the halved square.
  5. With the long fold at the bottom, take one of the triangle points and fold it over to the short triangle side.
  6. Do the same with the other triangle point. (It's as if the triangle were hugging itself).
  7. Now undo your "hug" and, holding along the spine, toss your butterfly in the air.

More Fun

Color your butterflies, and string them up in a window or a doorway. Use other paper or felt to glue on spots, antennae, and wing details.

Finger People (EASY)

  1. Follow steps #1 to #6 for the Basic Butterfly.
  2. Slip your fingers in the cavity--you've got a puppet!

More Fun

With markers or crayons, draw in arms, face, clothing, hair. For older children, take bits of string and fabric to further define features.

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Basic Hat (EASY)

  1. Take a rectangular piece of paper. A newspaper broadsheet makes a good hat for bigger kids' heads.
  2. Fold the paper in half by bringing the short sides together.
  3. With the fold at the top, take each of the upper corners, and bring them down to the middle so their points meet. (The folds look like triangles).
  4. With the bigger triangle point at the top, and the paper edges at the bottom, fold the open sides up on either side to form flaps.
  5. A basic hat! Add more zip by pinching the corners together in smaller folds on each other, or push the point in on your child's head to create a whole new shape.

More Fun

Paint patterns or logos (your favorite team insignia?), or stick a feather in your cap and call it macaroni.

Sailboat (HARDER)

  1. Make a Basic Hat.
  2. Open the model at the inside, so you are peering into the pointy darkness.
  3. Move the corners from the triangle towards each other and down so you form a square.
  4. Keeping the open corner pointed down, fold up the points to make a new, smaller triangle.
  5. Do the same step as #3 to move the corners from the triangle towards each other and down so you form a new, smaller square.
  6. With the open corner pointed down, take the two points at the top and slowly pull them away from each other until the boat is fully open.
  7. Ready to set sail!

More Fun

Try to race your boats in the bath or sink, and see how long they float before sinking.

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Fortune Teller (HARDEST)

1. Start with a square piece of paper. Since you'll want to write on it, you probably want blank sides.

2. Fold it in half to make a rectangle, and then again on itself to make a square.

3. Unfold your creases back to its original shape.

4. Now, fold the paper in half diagonally to make a triangle, and then again on itself to make a smaller triangle.

5. Unfold your creases back to its original shape again.

6. Take each of the points of the square, and fold them in to the middle in small triangles to turn the larger square into a diamond.

7. Flip the diamond over so the triangles are against your folding surface. Now you have a smooth square again.

8. As with #6, take each point of the new square, and fold it in to the middle to make a new, smaller diamond.

9. Now flip the diamond over again so its four square "pockets" are facing you.

10. Fold the Fortune Teller in half as a rectangle, with two pockets on each side.

11. Here's the (slightly) tricky part: With the pocket openings at the bottom, slide your left hand index finger into the pocket furthest away from you, and your left hand thumb finger into the pocket closest to you. Do the same with your right hand.

12. Then, push on the fold to bring your fingers-points to touching, like you are making the letter "O." You might have to play with the folds to make them more flexible and loosen up the Fortune Teller, but ultimately all fingers should be "touching" in the center.

13. Now you can play! On the four outside flaps/squares, write a different color.

14. On each of the eight inside triangles, write a number.

15. Open the diamond points/flaps. Under each of the 8 triangles, write a silly saying. Some we like:

You will have good luck tomorrow

You're a funny bunny

Today will be a great day for you

You get to choose what's for dinner

Tonight you don't have to do any chores

16. Fold the Fortune Teller back up and slide your fingers in the pockets again to play.

How to Play

Pinch all your fingers together and ask someone to choose a color. If she chooses "Red" then you spell out that word by moving your fingers apart so the index fingers stay together and the thumbs stay together, and then alternating so the left fingers stay together and the right fingers stay together. Each movement counts as one letter. Once you stop you'll see four numbers showing up. Ask the person to choose a number, and again count it out, alternating finger movements. Finally, ask the person to choose a number, and then pull up the flap to read their fortune.

More Fun

Before you write on it, flip the Fortune Teller upside down and use it as a "cootie catcher"--or to hold paperclips on a desk, small candies on a birthday table, little barrettes on a dresser.

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