30+ Easy Paper Crafts for Kids
Colorful Cardboard Zoo Animals
Transform leftover cardboard into a menagerie of animals and get ready to monkey around together!
What You'll Need: Animal templates, corrugated cardboard, craft paint, paintbrush, pipe cleaners, white glue
What To Do:
1. Print out our animal templates.
2. Trace templates onto cardboard and cut out.
3. Paint animals; let dry.
4. Cut pipe-cleaner tails and tusks. Secure to the cardboard with glue, according to templates.
5. Cut slits according to templates, and assemble the animals so they stand up as shown.
PS. You can skip the templates and let the kids create their own!
By Jodi Levine
Happy Chinese New Year
Sometimes called the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February 16. It’s a time to honor ancestors, feast on traditional foods, and make fun projects with classic symbols!
What You'll Need: Regular-size balloon, 9-oz. paper cup, clear tape, 2x12-inch cardstock, colorful paper scraps/cardstock, craft glue, hot glue, confetti
What To Do:
1. Tie a knot on the neck of the balloon. Cut off the top half.
2. Cut out the bottom of the cup.
3. Stretch the balloon opening over the bottom of the cup and tape the edge in place. Set aside.
4. Cut a 10-inch-diameter circle from the cardstock. Trim the edges to make a dragon as shown.
5. Trace the top of the paper cup to make a mouth, and cut out.
6. Glue on paper eyes, horns, nostrils, and more. Turn the paper over and hot-glue the top of the cup to the back of the mouth.
7. Fill the mouth with confetti and pull the knotted balloon end to release the fun “fire”!
We were inspired by the Wall Drawing series by American artist Sol LeWitt. In these, he drew vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines on walls to create surprising, room-size art. He worked in a temporary medium (walls) and believed that the art existed as an idea that could be replicated on different surfaces. For more information, visit Sol LeWitt Prints.
The Setup: Cut a large piece of white easel paper and tape off a border with washi or painter’s tape, if desired. (It will give a cleaner look.) Then clip or tape the paper to an easel or wall. Give your child three or four washable markers.
The Project: Have your child draw a big, squiggly line at the top of the paper in one color of marker, making sure to go all the way from the left to the right side. Use another color for the second line, following along the first. Continue this way in a repeating color pattern (or not!) to fill the whole page, then remove any tape. (This could take a while—encourage your child to take a break if necessary, or to work here and there over a few days.) How did the line change as he filled the paper?
Bonus Fun: Instead of a single line, have your child draw a few geometric shapes at different spots on the page, then radiate the patterns outward on all sides. What will he do when the lines intersect?
The Big Reveal
The Setup Your child will need painter’s tape, watercolor paper, crayons and/or stickers, a paintbrush, and watercolor paints.
The Project Tape the paper to a flat surface (this will keep it from curling as it dries). Have your child create a design with the crayons and/or stickers, pressing the edges firmly. Then have her paint over the whole thing in watercolor. Let dry, then remove the stickers and painter’s tape. Not only will she have fun creating art with more than one medium, she’ll also learn about the concept of negative space— seeing the bright white shapes left behind is always a thrill!
Bonus Fun What else around the house would work? Have your child experiment with crayon-like items (oil pastels, a stick of lip balm), sticky things (adhesive vinyl or other tapes), or anything else she thinks might repel watercolor (rubber cement, petroleum jelly).
Turn coffee filters into pretty paper glass with this crafty idea from a Nashville art teacher.
Rachel Motta is an art teacher with the Metropolitan Nashville Public School district in Tennessee. A firm believer in the idea that art is for everyone, she loves planning lessons with projects that students can interpret in their own way, with no wrong answers. Here, she shares an example that was a hit with her students.
A trio of exhibitions of Dale Chihuly's contemporary glass sculptures in Nashville inspired this project. Chihuly created a series of colorful, organic, bowl-shaped forms called Macchia (the word means spotted in Italian). For our student version, we used coffee filters. The translucency of the paper mimics the look of glass.
- Use scissors to trim the edge of a coffee filter to create an uneven, organic shape.
- Make lines, spots, and blobs on the coffee filter with non-permanent markers.
- Drape the coffee filter over an upside-down plastic cup or yogurt container.
- Apply spray starch to the filter until the marker colors bleed together and the coffee filter is completely wet.
- Let the filter dry.
Transform cardboard tubes into cute cottages in just a few simple steps.
- Paint the tube and let it dry.
- Make two angled cuts into one end of the tube to form a point. Fold a 3- by 3 1/2-inch piece of scrapbook paper in half, then set it on the pointed end as a roof. Use tacky glue to secure it.
- Make two cuts to create a rectangular door, as shown. Glue on a bead for a doorknob.
- Draw windows onto colored paper, cut them out, and attach them to the cottage using a glue stick.
- For a chimney, fold a strip of paper into a four-sided, open-ended box, and glue it to the roof.
Cute Cone Heads
To create a member of this colorful menagerie, cut a circle 4 to 7 inches wide from card stock, then cut a pie slice from the circle. Roll the circle into a cone and secure it with glue dots. Cut out card stock ears. Attach them opposite the seam with tacky glue. Add white office sticker eyes and glue on a pom-pom nose. Draw details with marker. To hang, glue a small rectangle of card stock to the top inside of the cone, fold the flap down, and tack it to a wall.
Make an epic paper snowflake using this technique from Side by Side, a book of collaborative crafts for parents and kids by Tsia Carson.
Working on the floor, lay 9 full-size sheets of newspaper in a three-by-three grid to form a square, then tape the sheets together. Fold and cut the square into a paper snowflake, as you would with a regular-size piece of paper. (Need a snowflake-cutting refresher? Go to firstpalette.com and search for "paper snowflake.") Carefully unfold the paper and admire!
Our sleek family of construction paper cats is the purr-fect project for little crafters.
1. Print out our cat template, then trace it onto a sheet of black construction paper.
2. Cut out the pieces and assemble the cat with a glue stick according to the template directions.
These hanging stars may look store-bought, but they're a cinch to cut and fold.
Greeting Card Jewelry
Regift a pretty card by turning it into a flower pendant or pin for someone special.
Vacation Countdown Caterpillar
Your kids will love tearing daily links from this adorable paper-chain caterpillar to count down the days until an exciting trip or event!
Make It: Trim a few sheets of colorful double-sided cardstock into strips. Staple or glue the edges together as you help your kids form the chain. Accent the caterpillar with cute pom-pom feet, googly eyes, and a heart-shape felt-sticker mouth. Finish this cute little guy by punching two small holes in the head and threading a short chenille stem through each to create curly antennae.
Paper Ice Cream Cone
At last -- a delicious-looking ice cream cone that won't melt in the summer sun!
Make It: Roll textured brown cardstock into a cone shape and secure with a brown brad. Crumble a piece of tissue paper into a ball, and help your child tape strips of colorful patterned paper around it. Attach to the cone. Use red buttons and a little hemp string for a perfect cherry topper.
Paper Mosaic Place Mats
Your children can use their imaginations to create mosaic-style landscapes that look picture-perfect as place mats on your dining room table.
Make It: Select a large piece of cardstock or thin cardboard for the backdrop. Sketch rough outlines of a simple landscape or have your kids create their own. Let your kids tear colored paper to glue onto the cardboard. When the design is finished, take it to an office supply store for laminating.
Summer ABC Book
Capture your child's summer memories in this easy-to-make index-card book. Your child can choose people, places, and activities to add under each letter of the alphabet.
Make It: Help your child plan fun ideas for each letter; cut out corresponding pictures from magazines or take your own photos. Mat images with patterned paper and adhere to index cards.
To display a letter on each page, write the letter on a white circle and mat with patterned paper. Separate each page with plastic index-card dividers, and create a durable back cover by trimming the tab from an extra divider. Punch holes in the upper corners of the cards and dividers and insert a binder ring. Tie pretty ribbon on the ring. Decorate the cover with stickers to complete this unforgettable keepsake.
Pretty Paper Fans
Cooling down on a hot day has never been sweeter! Let your children choose paper to fit their personalities.
Make It: For each fan, trim a 12x12-inch piece of heavyweight cardstock to 8x12 inches. Use a decorative border punch along a long edge of the sheet. To simplify the folding process, score at every inch with a scoring blade. Fold accordion-style. Gather at the bottom edge, punch a hole through all folds, and tie a decorative ribbon to complete a lovely fair-weather fan.
Watch your child's artwork twist and twirl at even the slightest gusts when you hang paper clip art characters on this cute mobile.
Make It: Select royalty-free clip art to use for your mobile (we chose nature-theme images). You'll need two versions: the standard icon and the icon flipped to be the mirror image (most image-processing software will allow you to do this; if you can't, simply doodle on one side of the art before hanging it). Print the standard images. Turn the paper over in your printer and print the mirror image on the back. Have your child color both sides with markers or crayons. Cut out the images when he's done, punching a hole in the top of each.
Cover two dowels with patterned paper and tie them together with ribbon to form an X shape. Attach string to the images and hang them from the ends of the dowels. Add string at the top to hang the mobile.
Fun Paper Kite
This adorable paper kite is made from an old map -- perfect for inspiring all kinds of lofty adventures.
Make It: Tie two dowels (one dowel should be longer than the other) into a cross shape with twine. Cut a notch on the edge of each dowel and stretch a string around the kite frame. Open a map and lay the frame on top. Trim around the frame, leaving a few inches to fold over the edges. Adhere the paper around the frame. Tie a long string for the tail to the back of the kite. Embellish the tail with ribbons and decorate the kite with a white paper cloud and theme stickers.
"Stained-Glass" Wall Hanging
Your child will love watching the summer sun shine right through this beautiful "stained-glass" wall hanging made from colorful tissue paper.
Make It: Paint an embroidery hoop in your child's favorite color. Cut the outline of a butterfly -- or any other shape -- from cardstock, to fit inside the hoop. Place the butterfly onto a piece of clear contact paper, sticky side up. Let your child tear up colored tissue paper to stick onto the wings. When you're done, place a sheet of tissue paper over the butterfly and add another layer of contact paper, sticky side down. Place inside the hoop and trim the edges. Hang with a ribbon near a sunny window.
Spare-Change Papier-Mache Bowl
Help your child keep her spare change ready for a shopping trip with this adorable papier-mache bowl.
Make It: Line the inside and rim of a small glass bowl with plastic wrap. Have your kids tear up colorful tissue paper and stick the pieces to the inside of the bowl using a simple mixture of white glue and water. After you've added a few layers, let it dry; remove the glass bowl and plastic wrap. Have your kids spell out "savings" in cute letter stickers. Add a little decoration by punching holes around the rim of the bowl and threading a pretty ribbon through.
Give your child an imagination workout with an open-ended activity that blends drawing and cool cutouts.
From a magazine, cut out images -- half of a person or an object (such as a piece of fruit, as we show) or entire vehicles or buildings -- and glue them to sheets of drawing paper. Put out colored pencils or markers.
Encourage your little artist to complete the half images by adding legs, for instance, or a fish tail, or doors and windows. Suggest drawing a landscape for the cars and buildings. Your child can glue on more images and add a title, if desired.
Cut word balloons and text boxes from white paper. Use them to turn the collage into a comic book-style story.
About this idea: This project is from Rachelle Doorley, who shares her creativity-sparking ideas on tinkerlab.com and in the book TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors.
Color Your World
Crepe paper streamers make vibrant, cheery crafts.
These fluttery wands call for a backyard parade. Cut 3-foot lengths from several streamer colors, then cut them in half lengthwise. Gather the pieces at one end. Place a drop of glue on the end of a painted dowel, stack the streamers on top, then securely attach them with a thumbtack. Glue a toy jewel on top of the tack.
Dress up a tree or two for your next party. Start by wrapping a streamer around the trunk once and securing it to its end, not the tree, with double-sided tape. Continue wrapping until a few inches are covered, then secure the end with tape. Repeat with more colors.
Have a Ball
Create 3-D textured artwork with balled-up bits of crepe paper. Cut a rectangle from a cereal box and draw a simple image on the unprinted side.
Crumple and roll 1 1/2-inch-long pieces of streamer into balls. Working on a section at a time, spread tacky glue onto the cardboard, then press the balls in place.
Our spiky-haired pencil topper is a welcome homework helper. Stack three 4 1/2-inch lengths of streamer, then cut fringe into one long edge. Sandwich double-sided tape between the layers. Place tape on the bottom layer and roll the stack around the end of a pencil. Glue on googly eyes and a paper mouth.
Match your lamp shade to your decor, for cheap. Starting at the bottom of a plain shade, simply wrap lengths of streamer around it, securing the ends with double-sided tape.
Hang several of these lightweight containers in a geometric pattern for a pretty way to display a child's collection or small desk supplies. To make one, cut a 31/2- by 5-inch rectangle from double-sided scrapbook paper. Find the midpoint of the bottom longer edge (21/2 inches from the corner), and make a light pencil mark. Fold up the lower left corner along the line created by the midpoint and the upper left corner, as shown. Crease, then unfold. Make a matching fold with the lower right corner, creasing then unfolding. Erase the pencil mark. Refold both; abut the two short edges and seal them with patterned washi tape. Attach the pocket to a wall with removable double-sided tape or removable mounting squares placed at the upper corners of the pocket.
Customize this cool spacecraft with extra hatches, portholes, side fins, and more. To make one, roll a rectangle of scrapbook paper (ours is about 4 by 6 inches) into a cylinder, sealing the seam with washi tape. Cut four 1-inch-long slits into one end of the cylinder, spacing them evenly around the edge. Cut out two mustache-shaped fins (A). Fold them at a right angle as shown, and insert them into the slits (B). For the nose cone, cut out a half circle (ours is 41/2 inches in diameter), roll into a cone, and seal the seam with washi tape. Run glue along the cylinder's top edge and place the cone on top; let glue dry. Glue a rectangle to the rocket's side for a hatch.
Make these pretty paper ornaments out of flat paper circles cut and folded in a simply ingenious way. With a pencil, lightly trace a drinking glass, can, or jar that's about 21/2 inches across. Cut out this base circle and set it aside. Cut eight more circles, four each in two different sizes (ours are about 3 inches and 21/4 inches across). Fold each of these circles in half. Make a cut across each circle's center, perpendicular to the fold, almost all the way through, leaving 1/2 to 1/4 inch uncut (A). Slide the four larger folded circles onto the base (B). Then slide the smaller ones inside the larger. To hang the sphere, use a pushpin to poke a hole through the edge of the base, and tie on a string.
A Mini Menagerie
Believe it or not, these fantastic animal heads are made from nothing more than cereal boxes, newspaper, flour paste, and paint—a simple project that Los Angeles art teacher Samara Caughey loves doing with her young students because it stretches their creative muscles. To make the creatures at home with your kids:
- Start with a regular or mini cereal box. From the bottom, cut halfway up each corner seam with scissors.
- To shape the animal's face, cut a curve into the bottom half of the front and back panels. (Make it pointier for a fox, rounder for a dog or a bunny.) Use masking tape to attach the side flaps along each edge. Trim excess.
- Cut out ears from a second cereal box and attach them to the animal head with masking tape. Use white glue to attach tightly crumpled balls of newspaper to the head for eyes and/or a nose.
- Tear newspaper into strips and squares that are roughly 2 to 4 inches wide.
- Make papier-mí¢ché paste: Combine 11/2 cups water and 1 cup flour; stir vigorously. Add 1/3 cup white glue and mix well. (You'll need about 11/2 cups of paste per animal.)
- Dip the paper into the paste, and smooth strips onto the animal head. Continue adding paper until all sections are covered with a few layers. Let it dry overnight.
- Decorate head with tempera paint, adding paper whiskers and eyelashes with white glue. Use hot glue to attach an unfolded paper clip to the back for hanging.
The Setup: Iron a few coffee filters to make them flat. (An adult's job—iron up to four at a time on the highest setting, no steam.) Set them out on a covered surface with lots of paper towels and a few bowls of liquid watercolor paint. (We used Sargent Art Watercolor Magic, $11; amazon.com.) You can also make it from cake watercolors: Remove each one and place in a bowl, then add a few drops of water at a time, mixing as you go, until the paint becomes a thin liquid.
Fold the Coffee Filters: Show your child these techniques to start— then encourage her to experiment on her own! FOR STRIPED DESIGNS Accordion-fold the coffee filter in 1-inch segments to get one long rectangle. Then accordion-fold the rectangle in ¾-inch segments to get a small rectangle. FOR CIRCULAR DESIGNS Fold the coffee filter in half three times so you have a cone shape. Unfold into a half-circle, then use the creases as a guide to accordion-fold the filter along its radius, like a fan, until you get a skinny triangle. Fold one corner of the rounded edge down to meet the opposite long edge, forming a triangle. Then accordion-fold the paper two more times, matching the corners to long edges, to get a small trapezoid.
Add Color: Dip a corner into the paint very quickly. Repeat with other corners, using new colors. Press the wet filter between two paper towels to squeeze off excess liquid, then gently unfold it and set on a protected surface to dry.
Bonus Fun: Play with other porous materials (such as tissue paper, newspaper, or fabric) to see how the paint absorbs with each.
The Setup You'll need plain or colored poster board (cut into smaller squares), scissors (including a pair with decorative-edge blades), and assorted art supplies, such as a glue stick, cardstock, markers, and washi tape.
The Project Have your child decorate the poster-board squares by gluing on cardstock or creating patterns with the art supplies. Next, help him cut the pieces into smaller organic shapes (to make the ones we used, download our template at familyfunmag.com/printables). Be sure at least two shapes are half-circles—they'll help form a base. To create the slots, make two ¾-inch cuts very close together, then discard the tiny strip of paper in between; add two or three slots per shape. Once your child has five or more shapes, he can slide two half-circles together at the slots to form an X, or slot together two to three pieces, rotating them until they stand on their own (at least three points should touch the work surface). From there, he can continue to add more pieces by sliding them together at the slots until he's satisfied with the result.
*We were inspired by American artist Alexander Calder, who built enormous abstract sculptures you can see today in places such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Visit calder.org to see photos and find his art near you.