Story Inspired – Art and Craft with a preschooler

FeaturedStory inspired activities come in various forms such as acting/singing them out, making puzzles or coloring templates and lots more. For me, I use stories as a starting point for setting the stage for an art and craft activity.

This weekend, my daughter wanted me to read The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson. It’s a lovely story about a girl who makes a paper doll with her mother and plays with it in various imaginary stories and finally the paper dolls get snipped into bits and pieces by a boy. But that memory of paper doll lives in her and when she grows up, she does this craft with her child. Overall, it is a very heartwarming story, the illustrations are dreamy and beautiful and the words are very catchy. Our book comes with the audio CD and the children enjoys listening to it in the car or at home.

paper dolls book

Anyway, here’s a little bit of how we did up our paper dolls.
Paper A3 size (I used a 190gsm as I wanted a sturdier paper to hold the fabric)
Freehand drawing of a doll (if you need a template, click here. Please adjust size accordingly)
Fabric, paper scraps, ribbons
Embellishments (optional)

Place the paper landscape wise, fold it into an accordion style with 4 inches each segment.
Draw the shape of the doll, have the ends of the hands and/or legs reach the end of the paper so that when you cut, it will connect.
If using template, print out the template, cut it and paste it on your paper, and cut out the shape. Alternatively, you can trace the outline of the cutout.
Set the table with materials for the child to work on
I used a school glue, and poured it into a plate and provided a brush for my daughter to use.
We had this “gluing station” where all the gluing took place on a cardboard so as to minimize the mess.

If the paper is thick, it might be better for the adult to cut out the templates or if your child is older you might like him/her to give it a try to cut it out.

My suggestion would be to read the story a few days before hand, have your child interested in making their paper dolls. And on the day of the activity, read the book then invite your child to work on the activity when you have the paper doll template and materials are ready.

My daughter and I took about 2 hours from start to finish making the paper dolls and decorating them. This is the first time she tried cutting fabric and it was not easy because I did not give her a fabric scissors which would be too heavy and sharp for her to handle. But she was persistent and she succeeded in cutting out some shapes and a dress for her doll. She did a series of girls and I made a series of 3 boys and 1 girl.

We made up names for our dolls and tried to make them rhyme. It was hilarious figuring those names during dinner!

My 3 year old joined us for the last 20 mins and was interested in coloring parts of the doll. Do be prepared for the younger kids to accidentally rip the hands apart. My son did that while daddy read the story to them at bedtime this evening. I fixed it by using a metal paper fasteners.

story telling
Story telling before bedtime
paper dolls with fastener
Paper Dolls with paper fasteners


There are so many stories out there that one could possibly use it as a source of inspiration. We have done Dr. Seuess Green Eggs and Ham where we cooked our eggs and ham green,The Very Hungry Caterpillar where we used balloons to print the shape of the caterpillar and Mr Seahorse using colored tissue paper to let it “bleed”.


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