5 toilet paper rolls, transformed into Santa and reindeers easily! © Josephine Ng

I have a four-year-old at home, and I am very comfortable to let her have some unscheduled downtime. She will feel bored, which is perfect, as she will be actively looking for something to do. Without YouTube, without tablets, you will see how a boring kid sparkles creative ideas with her associative thinking.  It is good mental training for adults too – if you are just feeding your kids with new toys whenever they feel bored, your brain has not done its job too – not to mention it is not sustainable at all.

Instead of providing ‘answers’ to deal with boredom, parents could create an environment that inspires thinking and nurtures creative children. As year-end is approaching, I am going to challenge myself with a new year resolution. I will co-create toys with my daughter using existing materials at home whenever she “wants” something new to play. Because we all know that sometimes we don’t really need those things we want.

I am no artist-mom, so if I can do it, you too!

Give toilet roll a few cuts: Reindeer is coming to town!

Steps to turn an empty paper roll into a reindeer.
Steps for creating the body and the horns. © Josephine Ng
  1. Stock up some empty toilet rolls (they are really useful!)
  2. Press the paper roll with your palm and make it flat
  3. Cut out ⅓ and make it shorter
  4. Follow the black line to cut
Steps for creating the body and the horns. © Josephine Ng

Reminder: If you think cardboard is too hard for children to cut out, parents can help with the above steps. Children under 5 may find it difficult to use scissors.

When you finished cutting, you can follow these steps to create the body and the horns.

After the paper reindeer is in shape, it’s time for colouring! This is free time for children to paint in their own way. My daughter painted them all brown, gave them different expressions, and we ended up having 4 unique reindeer!

Now, come to the nose! Instead of buying materials from shops, I want to challenge my daughter to search for alternatives from the house. After searching her stationary for a while, she happily says,  ‘Mama, we have diamond stickers!’ Here comes a perfect solution! It is always nice to allow some space for children to solve their own problems, sometimes they will even surprise you with their creativity!

Children free time: paint the reindeers in their own way! © Josephine Ng
FINISH! Look how easy it is! © Josephine Ng

Transform rolled paper straws into Christmas ornaments

Besides empty toilet rolls, I have lots of old magazines and newsletters at home. I used to just put them in the recycle bin, but recently I find that they have a better second life! If you search in Pinterest with keywords “rolled paper crafts” or “rolled newspaper crafts”, you will find they can be handmade into photo frames, paper flowers, baskets or even drawers! Of course, you first need to turn them into paper rolls. Here are the easy steps from youtube.

How to make rolled paper straw from old magazines? © Josephine Ng

I am going to start with making easy Christmas ornaments as my daughter is small.

  1. Make the rolled paper flat, paint in green, and cut them into different lengths that resembles a Christmas tree.
  2. Glue the rolled paper together, and decorate them.
  3. Done!

Besides the Christmas tree, I also experimented to use rolled paper to make a paper star ornament. I took reference from the ‘Hong Kong toothpicks stars’  when making this – a collective memory of Hong Kongers, where we used to make star-shaped crafted using toothpicks to kill time when we went ‘yum-cha’ with parents (Video here). Those were the days when we did not have mobile phones! Lastly, if you want to hang up the ornaments, leftover yarns will do the job.

Upcycled Christmas tree craft from a 4-year-old! © Josephine Ng
Upcycled Christmas tree craft from a 4-year-old! © Josephine Ng

Read more:

  1. 28 Christmas Crafts Made From Toilet Paper Rolls
  2. 12 Toilet Paper Roll Christmas Crafts
  3. How to make Paper Straws from Newspapers
  4. 10 DIY Rolled Paper Crafts From Recycled Magazines