Self Portrait Paper Dolls


Children can create a paper doll in their likeness with a fun, coordinating background that reflects their interests.


  • To create a paper doll and background that reflects individuality
  • To build self-confidence, listening and verbal skills
  • To encourage each child to identify what is important to them and connect with classmates
  • To build confidence in speaking to audiences and be accepting of yourself and others

Before You Start:
Gather file folders for each child to decorate as the background scene for their paper dolls; some file folders may be cut into paper doll templates for the children to use if they wish. Templates should be 5-6 inches. You will also need: multi-colored card stock paper for paper doll, clothing and background shapes (approximately 6-8 sheets for each child), yarn, pipe cleaners, buttons, glitter, newspaper, notebook paper, pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, glue and scissors. Prior to the activity, the teacher may want to designate areas in the classroom for the "Paper Station," "Material Station" and "Drying Station," and make a doll and background scene about herself to share with the class.

Let's Get Started!
Step 1.
Give a brief overview of the activity to the class and its purpose (to get to know more about each other), and then share with the students the doll and background you have made ahead of time. Let them know that they will be presenting their finished project to the class. (The teacher can determine if there will be credit and/or points for the presentations.)

Step 2.
Take time to "plan the project" with students. Write several questions on the board. Have the children write down the questions and their answers on notebook paper. Prompt them to be very detailed and if they get stuck during the project encourage them to look at the plan. Sample questions: What will I include in my background scene? What makes me smile? What should I be wearing? How many pieces and what color of paper do I need for my doll, clothing, and background?

Step 3.
Each child should select all paper needed for the project from the "Paper Station". This is a good time to distribute templates (for any child who wishes to use one) and file folders for the background scenes.

Step 4.
Once they have all the paper they need, children can trace a paper doll template (or draw their doll on paper selected) and cut out, then draw and cut out clothing for their dolls as well. Have children put their names on the back of their doll and file folder.

Step 5.
Once drawings are complete, children can proceed to the "Material Station" to select yarn, pipe cleaners, buttons, glitter and other arts and crafts materials. They can decorate doll and background scene with the items they've chosen, colored pencils, markers, etc. at their desks. (Tell the children NOT to glue the paper doll to the background scene. They may need the "doll" at a later date.)

Step 6.
Upon completion, have children take their projects to the “Drying Station". Give the projects at least 24 hours to dry.

Step 7.
The following day, before the presentations begin, read the children books about accepting each other just the way they are.

Step 8.
Let the children share their projects. Encourage the children to be enthusiastic and clap for each other after presenting. If there are any children that are very shy or have trouble speaking in front of large groups, let them pick a classmate that they are comfortable with to share their story as practice before they stand in front of the class.

Each project should be displayed in the classroom. The teacher may use an oral presentation/project grading sheet for each child to determine if the goals were met for the project. Points could be given for different areas, such as amount of detail provided on paper doll and background scene, delivery of information in presentation, pace of speaking and volume, and effort.

Products You May Need: