Do you have a kid (or two, or three) that is just as content to play with a box or empty paper towel roll as they are to play with a top of the line toy? A kid who can invent a million games and make believes inspired by a mound of dirt? (Were you that kid?)
Although toy and game makers continually create inventive products to stimulate and captivate our children’s minds and imaginations, there’s something to be said for simple crafts and games you can create at home.
Next time it’s rainy and the kids are bored, try breaking into your stash of tissue paper for some creative, low-mess fun.
Make Custom Decorations
Large tissue paper pom-poms, paper lanterns, and other decorations can be found at many craft and party stores, but why not enjoy an afternoon helping your kids make their own custom decorations?
Using string, glue, and tissue paper (and your son or daughter’s keen eye for design), you can make your own pom-poms to decorate your child’s room. With a plethora of tissue paper colors and designs available, you can easily create decorations that match your child’s room better than any store-bought option.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, try making a custom paper lantern that your kids can illuminate with a simple battery-powered faux-candle. Use popsicle sticks or twigs to support the frame and layers of tissue paper to make a custom, illuminated design. All you need is a pair of scissors and a little adhesive to make anything from Rapunzel’s lantern to a lantern that imitates their favorite kingdom from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Make One-of-a-Kind Puppets
Most moms and kids are familiar with paper bag puppets: simple creations usually decorated with markers and maybe some crinkly construction-paper hair. Next time you’re making puppets to star in your kid’s imaginative productions, try throwing tissue paper in the mix.
Tissue paper has the benefit of being more flexible than construction paper or other common materials. With adhesive, you could mold and affix flowers or other three dimensional details. (For kids who are tempted to taste the glue, you could instead make a homemade paper paste that would be safe if ingested.) The semi-transparent nature of the paper makes it perfect for achieving a more layered, detailed look, like adding patterns to the puppet’s clothing. Since it is so lightweight, hair, capes or other accessories made of tissue paper will float, flutter and fly with the puppeteer’s movement.
Hold Costume Contests
When stuck in a tent due to a rainstorm, my aunt kept her kids occupied with only a roll of paper towels. They had a blast coming up with as many costumes and characters as possible using only the paper towels. (Their impromptu pilgrim costumes were particularly well done.)
If you have a few hours to fill due to a rainstorm, challenge your children to the same game only using tissue paper. The varying sizes and colors of tissue paper will provide more possibilities than paper towels, and your kids can stretch the limits of their imaginations. You could keep the game free form or have a stack of suggestions on index cards. (If competition is a motivator, try making it a contest or a guessing game.)
Embellish DIY Props
Kids can entertain themselves with cardboard swords, shields, houses or other props for hours. You wouldn’t believe the mileage my cousins and I got out of the packaging for our grandmother’s new shower stall!
While little else is needed besides the cardboard and their imaginations, wouldn’t it be fun to make some of those props come to life? Just like puppet decorating, tissue paper can be glued, wrapped, taped, bunched and shaped together with the cardboard to bring their props to new life.
A little adhesive and a few sheets of paper are all you need to make that cardboard shield look like Captain America’s signature shield, or to make that scepter or scimitar just as vibrant in real life as in their imagination.
Have Fun with Colors and Shapes
Some little ones might not be ready to cut and glue their own props or puppets, but there are plenty of entertaining options more their speed.
Try researching a few DIY games that aid development and substituting tissue paper for more expensive materials like wood blocks. Cut shapes out of a variety of the colored paper, and work on color or shape matching. Let them enjoy the way light shows through the paper or the way the paper’s texture changes when they ball it up. Give them free reign to decorate a pumpkin, box or gourd with a stack of pre-cut shapes and the help of a homemade adhesive (safe to eat and easy to clean up).
Don’t stop there! Let your imagination run wild as you come up with new and creative ways to entertain your kids with simple, frequently overlooked items like tissue paper.