Paper Doll Papas

Storytelling with Paper Dolls

Suggestions for doing this activity with multiple ages are at the bottom of the post.

Storytelling happens naturally with young children, particularly with just a little prompting such as these paper dolls.  Encouraging your child to tell you a story about the character they're decorating helps them develop their ability to express their thoughts – laying the groundwork for good writing ability later.  And, it's just fun to hear what they come up with, of course!

Make paper dolls with your child and listen to their story unfold.

Scrappy paper dolls for sparking conversation and storytelling with kids
Ideas for how to cut paper dolls: Paper Doll Chain Patterns


{The following is from November 2008, when my oldest, James, was 3} James asked for “Special Art Time With Mama” recently and I set up this paper doll activity to do during his brother's nap. To make it special I made up a basket of supplies and brought them into his bedroom at his little table and cut out these dolls we could decorate, figuring I'd give them as an idea and then let him take the lead.

It was great. I just dove in and started drawing faces and he grabbed his own and got to work.

Making scrappy paper dolls with kids

What was most fun is was hearing him tell stories about them. His paper dolls were “all Papas.”

One of them didn't like clothes, one liked hats and one wanted a face. Once he had a face he started demanding food and we had to make him a plate!

He was so excited that I'd made them hold hands and wanted to know how I'd managed that, and then he wanted to know all about my dolls, and eventually took to helping me dress them too. After maybe 20 minutes he said, “Ok, Mama, I'm done!” and then helped clean up. We will be doing this again for sure. I left all the doll supplies together so we can grab them easily. Whether you have paper or fabric you've got to try this sometime. You never know what those Papa dolls will be up to!

Fun For More Many Ages:

Storytelling with paper Dolls is Perfect for Ages 3-6.
Here are some ways to make it fun for all of your kids:

Babies: Can be given paper to rip or an empty wipes container with fabric scraps in it to investigate.

Toddlers: Some younger toddlers will enjoy this activity, but they may have a shorter attention span.  Options:  Only gradually hand out materials to decorate their dolls (markers, then stickers, then crayons…).  Let them destroy their art after they're done creating. Ask them to put the paper dolls to bed and start a game of pretend play. Have a snack close at hand and hand it over as your toddlers attention wanes.

Older Children: Can take this activity in many directions. They may enjoy experimenting with the concept of cutting paper in a chain – what other shapes can they make? They may get into the storytelling with the paper dolls: would they like to name each doll?  Would they like to tell a story about the dolls and have you write it down?