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Paper: the least expensive toy EVER?!!

We’re all looking for ways to make budgets stretch further these days, especially coming up to the holiday season, so here are a few ideas that will entertain kids for hours without breaking the bank. It’s Scrooge, but without the misery, and all you need is…PAPER!!!

Easily amused

Doesn’t it just kill you when kids get bored with their new mega-game console after 5 seconds, then spend hours playing with the box? Here’s an even better idea: save your money and just show them some paper:


Origami-Dog Ok, so ripping paper is cute, and it gets a few laughs, but it’s not going to cut it with slightly older kids. Keep them amused with some origami instead!

Here’s an easy one to start them off: just four folds, and you have a cute little doggie. They can even paint it if they’re feeling really creative!

Download the template here.

There are lots of resources on the web, including many other free templates, and lots of well-written books and kits available too.

Next Steps…

Making an origami dog is an easy start. Here are two ways of making an origami elephant; the easy way… and the hard way! The easy way is fun for younger children, especially if you’ve got some googly eyes to stick on!


If you’re still stuck for inspiration, check out some of the work below: no pressure! (click on any image to find out more about the artist)

Dwarf Ryu Jin 2.1 Pegasus

What about those boxes?

It’s one of those great childhood ironies that kids spend more time playing with the boxes than the gifts themselves. I used to think that this was an urban myth… until I had my own kids! A cardboard box can become anything in a child’s imagination.

A few days ago, my kids were feeling a little bit bored, so I asked them if they wanted to make a rocket. Their eyes lit up immediately, and I started by sticking together a few old boxes from my office (actually, tidying up my office was the real goal here, but hey, if the kids see me as a hero too, it’s all good!) As you can see from the picture, my own efforts required about 10% cardboard, and 90% imagination.

Still, after cutting out a hole for a window (great idea!) and two holes for their arms (not so good), the ‘Rocket Project’ took on a life of it’s own. One week later, and they’re still painting it, adding stickers and swiping foil from the kitchen, to make it look more like a real space ship! One especially nice touch was when they discovered some bright orange tissue paper left over from Halloween, and stuck it to the base of the rocket. “That’s the fire, daddy” was the explanation, and a pretty good one too!

So, don’t despair if your kids ignore your carefully chosen gifts: just go with the flow and join in the cardboard box fun! It may not be pretty, but soon they’ll have the boat, the car and the house that they’ve always dreamed of… and a healthy dose of achievement too!

2 Responses to “Paper: the least expensive toy EVER?!!”

  1. Kids are easy to amuse with boxes and paper – paper toys are classics that we love for a lifetime. I like to make costumes and toys from paper … recycled cartons have so many possibilities for kids to get creative.

  2. Hi Pastiche, thanks for visiting! Your paper lens is well worth a look for more inspiration.