We usually make our own wrapping paper, mostly because I can never remember to buy it and we don't ever seem to have enough or the right type on hand when it is needed. I also like to have the kids make something and spend time thinking about the recipient.
One of our favorite ways to make wrapping paper is to use dot paints. I love dot paints, they can be used to make such cool pictures and it is something all kids can use regardless of age or ability. When doing wrapping paper I usually just role out a big sheet of paper and let them go at it.
As with any project sometimes the result is a beautiful piece of work while other times the results are less than what I had hoped for. This past weekend each of the kids was invited to a birthday party - this was a first for us, to have all three kids at a different party at the same time. Three parties plus three gifts equals lots of wrapping paper. Instead of having each kid make their own sheet of wrapping paper I decided to have them work together to make one big sheet of paper. It was a beautiful fall day so we headed outside. I rolled out one huge sheet of paper and set them to work. I had big hopes for a nice piece of work that showed both individuality and cooperation, unfortunately that is not what I got.
About 2 minutes after starting my son had walked away because his sisters where not doing what he wanted. The girls decided that it would be much more fun to stamp their feet and run up and down on the paper. Now this type of creativity is great, but it didn't seem very thoughtful which is what I was trying to get them to focus on. It was time to refocus.
I went back to working on smaller pieces of paper, one sheet for each gift. I still wanted them to work together. Each child got to be the leader for the paper that would be used on their gift. That child got to choose 4 colors of paint and the rules for painting. There had to be a pattern in how the paper was made, but it didn't matter what that pattern was.
For example the leader could:
make six dots, then everybody else did six dots.
make a circle, then everybody else did a circle
make dots on every side of the page, then everybody would follow
ask everybody to stamp on the dots she just made
It was fun to see what they came up with and how well each could explain the pattern and follow the pattern that was given.
The paper definitely looked like they made it, but it looked like they made it with a little bit of thought and care, which was the goal of the project.