Paper Crafts that work for Library classes
When I need to pull together a crafts class for the library at the last minute with little money, I usually do paper crafts. There is a paper project for all ages and abilities. For preschool crafts, just practicing with the scissors is important. Sometimes, if the project is too hard for them to cut out and it has been done beforehand, we just cut up scraps to practice.
Don’t just assume since you have instructions in front of you that you can teach folding a shape. Practice! Make at least five or six so that you get a feel for how it needs to go together. For a thirty minute class for children, have three shapes of progressive difficulty. Have step-by-step instruction hand-outs, but don’t give them out until you start each shape. Ideally, you should have demo pieces in different stages of completion. Start by explaining the difference between mountain and valley folds, an important concept in creating origami. Do the project along with your students, so instead of taking their project away from them, you show what to do on yours. Don’t explain the next step until your slowest student completes the previous step. The advanced students can go ahead by looking at their instruction sheet. Have a display of origami books on hand for your students to check out when they’re done, and let them take home paper to keep practicing!
You can purchase origami paper at most craft stores. For absolute beginners, I often use squares of colored copy paper, which is thicker and bigger, so easier to learn on. To create a square out of letter-sized copy paper, take one corner and fold it down until the corner lines up with the opposite side edge, making a triangle. Cut off the excess (which can be used for bookmarks).
I love making jumping frogs out of index cards. Use colored index cards if you can.
There are some great free printable paper model sites out there. My go-to site is Canon Creative Park. Again, practice first. Use the thickest paper that you can run through your printer, because regular copy paper doesn’t stand up as well. Gauge your audience. Can they cut around complicated edges? Do they have the patience to hold pieces together until they are set? If you are having a drop-in craft with mixed ages, be sure to have something simple as an alternative.
Most of the time I use glue sticks when doing paper models. This has the disadvantage of not having a strong hold, but is less messy than liquid glue.
Everything old is new again. My go-to site for paper dolls is Making Friends, which has a lot of choices for both genders. I like being able to make a scientist doll.
There are great books of craft ideas, especially in the juvenile section. Stock your craft storage shelf full of paper, and keep a file of ideas on hand. Take notes when you finish a class as to what worked and what you would do differently.
Today at the library we’re doing snowflakes, but I’m not running this one. I think I will make some Star Wars ones at home, though.