Paper Dolls for Nerdy Kids (and Adults, too)

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Paper doll technology has made surprisingly little progress in the last couple of hundred years. Awesome! You can still buy books of pictures of dolls and their clothes that you cut out by hand with scissors and fold the tab over to hold the clothes in place. Not too different from some of the originals.

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And you can pay dearly for this privilege.  Sure they have “cling” paper doll sets where the clothes cling for about one week, after which point you literally have to lick the back of them to get them to stay (a trick my daughter picked up very quickly from me, much to my chagrin). And there are magnet “paper” dolls, too. But shouldn’t paper dolls be made of paper? Exactly.

With a little help from your printer, you can easily help your children make their own paper dolls. No more hunting for the perfect Rapunzel (especially if you want to avoid Disney versions) or Japanese Anime paper doll set.

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The world can be their oyster. Whatever characters your kid adores, you can help bring them to life. Searching the Web for images can be helpful (and sometimes you can even find free paper doll sets to print out), but one of the easiest ways to get started is to use characters from books. Simply photocopy the character, photocopy and resize the clothes, and cut out, adding tabs. Now try them on. Have a Madeline fan? Your child can dress her using outfits from the books or even update her fashion using the pile of kids’ clothing catalogs delivered to your door step. Just leave little tabs and presto, Madeline is no longer dressed in the bulky wear of a French Orphan from a hundred years ago, but is ready for summer in her Hanna Andersson swimsuit.

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And Miss Clavel can finally get out of the habit.

Keep in mind that paper dolls are not just for girls or boys who like dolls. If you have a Boy Wonder in the making, print up some action hero pictures and their costumes for a quick change in 2-D. Or, if they are into Star Trek, they could mix it up across the generations. How would Kirk look in Picard’s uniform? Spock in a beret? Talk about boldly going somewhere no one has gone before …

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And who says that your child’s favorite character can’t be themselves? Narcissism doesn’t really start until 13, does it? Self-portrait paper dolls could be especially fun for a girls’ slumber party. Take pictures of all the girls, re-size and print them out to the size of the average model in their favorite catalogs, then let them cut the catalogs up and all “try on” outfits. Just be sure that you have a sound proof room or earplugs to avoid the pealing giggles.

This would be a good time to try out some paper doll action for yourself, too. Reenact a favorite show or immortalize your own rock hero. All it really takes is some cardstock or photo paper, some resizing and scissors to while away some hours on the cheap.

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