It all begins with a blank page which to begin with serves as a piece to chew on. Tear apart. Sometimes even pee on. Very rarely is it stroked gently to feel its texture. Many a wondrous time it is used to look through at the play of light. The humble papyrus makes its journey into our children’s lives in so many ways other than what it really is intended for.
Do you remember the first time you smelt paper? I may not remember the first time ever, but I do recall the smell of new notebooks that would arrive at the beginning of the school year. Not just the smell but also the way in which the pages used to almost crackle when pulled apart for the first time. And then there are the other memories of interacting with paper – of the colourful but delicate kite paper, newspaper squished to pulp for a papier-mâché project, of the utter delight of discovering the almost velvetish to touch ‘felt’ paper – which would leave hands stained with colour after any art project!
Kids nowadays have a much more dignified entry to the world of paper – classrooms are designed to introduce textures and smells in a very structured and scientific manner. Some children perhaps know where and how paper came to be way before they actually encounter much of it. They are taught to use paper in many wondrous ways – origami, craft, as something to be recycled and most importantly as something to be written or drawn on!
You may be wondering why I am going on and on about something which is such a mundane everyday part of our lives. It is just that almost everyday I discover an old notebook that hasn’t been written in for ages, newspapers neatly stocked up for the raddiwalla while I busily take colour print outs for ‘collages’ for Kidlet’s school activities, getting origami art boxes while I have forgotten the folding steps to make a simple paper boat. While we may go on and on about how the hyper digitalisation of our times has effected our reading and writing, I rue the fact that we are slowly distancing ourselves and our children from one of the most empowering instruments mankind invented – paper.
I thought about it for a while and came across a few ideas that one could use to expand the experience that kids have with paper. And without much ado, here are a few things that you could try to do with your child to reacquaint yourself and paper:
1. Make handmade paper
There is a fabulous tutorial down here at mommy-labs to make hand-made paper. Even if you are not a paper buff – the pretty results will definitely make you want to give it a try.
2. Create a collage
And not the type that schools make. Let the kids (and yourself) run amok – paste, cut and tear to your heart’s content.
3. Publish your own ‘newspaper’
This could be fun to do especially if your child knows how to write. It can even be done with lots of pictures. You could take an old newspaper and then cover some of the printed features with white paper cut outs. On these white sheets write, draw, doodle – your own stories and make an authentic looking newspaper of your own.
4. Make a Kite, a boat or a hand toy
This is the simplest thing that you could do when you have a little time and some paper lying around. And as far as I remember it is a lot of fun!
There are a million ways to discover paper – cutting, soaking, sticking, scribbling is just a fraction of them.
What are the things that you have done with your child that involve paper? Do share!
Nidhi Dorairaj Bruce is a Freelance writer from Mumbai. With no formal education in Parenting, she has been getting on-the-job training ever since her daughter, affectionately referred to as ‘the kidlet’, arrived on the scene 5 years ago. On Twitter, you can connect with Nidhi @typewritermom