My daughter received her first American Girl doll when she was seven years old. At the time, I wasn't really sure I wanted to give it to her; I thought American Girls were expensive and overrated. I wasn't wrong about the expensive part, but I have to admit that I was completely wrong about the overrated part -- American Girl dolls are a wonderful way to get young girls interested in historical fiction, social issues, girl power, imaginative play, and crafting! My daughter is now thirteen, and she still loves her American Girl doll collection. Actually, I think I love her dolls more than she does!
One of the best things about playing with American Girl dolls is making your own doll accessories. Purchasing a full set of accessories can be a big investment, so making doll accessories with your child not only saves money, but also lets your child unleash her creative side, and gives you the opportunity to spend time with her doing something fun. My daughter and her friends have created a everything for their American Girl dolls through crafts, including beds, wardrobes, carriages, scooters, tote bags, jewellery, clothes, hats, and more. Here are five quick, easy things you and your child can make for her American Girl doll:
A girl needs a purse for toting all her essentials around! There are many ways to make mini purses or tote bags. One of the first projects we ever did was a felt purse. Just cut a small square of felt (about 3 inches square), fold it in half, and hot glue the two sides together (leave the top open. Then string some plastic pony beads onto a length of plastic lanyard string (about 6 inches long) and glue the ends to each end of the felt purse. Another easy option is to construct a tote bag from strips of patterned duct tape.
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photo credit: mdpettitt on Flickr
Girls love playing bakery, ice cream shoppe, and cafe with their American Girl dolls -- but there's never enough food to go around! You can sculpt your own mini doll treats with air drying clay (like Crayola) or polymer clay (like Fimo). Polymer claytakes a bit more time because you have to bake it, but it gives sturdier and prettier results, especially if you brush your creation with a paint-on glaze after it cools. Try making cupcakes, cakes, lollipops, hotdogs, pizza, fruit, and other favourite foods!
It's amazing what you can do with beads and string. Necklaces, belts, bracelets, ponytail holders.. the possibilities are limitless! We've made enough jewellery to adorn every single one of my daughter's dolls -- and her friends' dolls! -- in Oscar-worthy bling. Since dolls are much smaller than people, it's a lot easier for kids to use elastic string rather than have to fiddle with jewellery wire and clasps. Just measure out a length of elastic, string some beads on, and tie the ends together (you might want to dab the knot with some krazy glue to make sure the knot doesn't come undone.
Once you buy your daughter an American Girl doll, you just know you'll have to add a closetful of clothes! Luckily, many companies sell clothes that fit American Girl dolls. You can even make your own. One of the easiest wardrobe items you can make is a tulle tutu. You'll need about half a yard of tulle and a foot of elastic band, with the ends sewn or glued together to make a waistband. Cut the tulle into strips about a foot long and 2 inches wide. Knot the tulle strips onto the elastic waistband (you might want to hot glue the strips onto the waistband to secure them). Make sure you bunch the strips together tightly so you end up with a nice, full flounce!
What makes a house a home? All the details that make it personal and special -- photos, posters, pillows, rugs. Making a bright, cozy rug for a doll bedroom couldn't be easier. Just braid a length of yarn, coil it into a circular rug shape, and sew it together! If your daughter's sewing skills aren't up to the task, you can cut a circle out of felt and have her glue the yarn onto the felt. Another fun option is to weave your own yarn rug using a round loom. You can make your own loom from a paper plate or purchase an inexpensive plastic loom.