Yesterday was a lazy kind of Sunday, just perfect for a little crafting, a good book and some play time. With the littlest having a nap and A very much wanting to colour, draw and create, I hunted down The Paper Dolls, written by Julia Donaldson and beautifully illustrated by Rebecca Cobb. I honestly didn’t realise how many Julia Donaldson books we regularly read until I started writing about books!
In The Paper Dolls, a little girl and her mother make some paper dolls, which the little girl then plays with. She takes inspiration from her surroundings in her play and it’s such a beautiful example of a child’s imagination at work, the way her tiger slipper becomes a real tiger, her plate becomes an island and the dolls ‘lay down in a forest of grass’. Sadly, after dodging danger in tiger, dinosaur and crocodile form, the paper dolls fall victim to a little boy and his scissors, but they’re not really gone and live on in the little girl’s memory.
Rebecca Cobb’s depiction of the little girl’s memory is delightful and full of little details from the story as well as other things that loom large when you think back to your childhood, birthday cakes, pets and the like. Finally, the little girl grows up, has a little girl of her own and together they make some paper dolls. This is the point at which I have to hide the fact I’m tearing up from my audience! I love this book. Really love it. We’ve made the dolls a million times and it never stops being fun.
What did we do?
All we needed was paper, scissors, pens and The Paper Dolls. I cut the dolls out for A, who is so familiar with the process now she requests specific characters and shapes; today I was asked to provide Ben Elf, Holly Thistle the fairy, Nanny Plum and King Thistle. I did my best to oblige! Before we read the book, she drew and coloured them in then we read the book together.
The little girl makes her dolls jump, dance, float and hop so each time we read one of these verbs A made her dolls do the same. Once we’d read the book, we put the dolls in a few different scenarios. A needed a little guidance initially as she usually makes the dolls and then forgets about them, but once we’d put them in a boat in the sea (a bowl on a throw) and a swimming pool (A’s idea – in her block box) she got the idea and the second we stepped into the garden, that was it, she was off in a world of her own.
I cracked on with the weeding and she played relentlessly, all over the garden, for around forty-five minutes with her paper dolls. They went on the swing, down the slide and into the playhouse, but mostly they played in the flower bed with the flowers and the grass cuttings. It was amazing for developing her imaginative play and I caught snippets of her play involving, amongst other things, Holly rescuing Ben and everyone coming in for dinner time.
The Paper Dolls is a really lovely book and our enjoyment of it has been really enhanced by joining in and making our own dolls. I’d recommend giving it a go, especially if you have a keen crafter.
How can you use this?
- If something (feasible) is made in your book, give it a go yourselves
- Get outdoors. I can’t stress this enough. Taking our books and activities outside has an amazing impact on the kids’ enjoyment