CREATIVE PRINT

Make your own sustainable fidget toys with Creative Park

Fidget toys are fun to play with and even more fun to make, but they can also calm busy minds, as we find out in this tutorial from papercraft expert Paula Milner and her son Freddie.
A pack of Canon Matte Photo Paper, shot from above, surrounded by colourful papercraft fidget toys.

Paula Milner is a UK-based craft enthusiast and fabric designer. She goes by the name of The Crafty Lass on Instagram, where she shares craft inspiration and snippets of her home life with over 6,000 followers. Paula's eldest son Freddie is autistic and awaiting an ADHD diagnosis, which means he requires additional support – something Paula talks openly and honestly about on her social channels.

Crafting has always been a big part of Freddie's childhood, and though he can find it difficult to concentrate for long periods, Paula finds ways to keep him engaged. "Freddie is really interested in what his mummy and daddy do," says Paula. "His dad is an engineer and very number driven, so Freddie is interested in number toys and games too. If he sees me crocheting or sewing, he'll want to learn how to do it – he can already sew on a button, and he's made his own patchwork quilt. He's very interested in anything that shows him immediate results."

Paula has recently discovered Canon's Creative Park, which is helping her to keep Freddie entertained by providing countless easy-to-make papercraft projects. Papercraft fidget toys are a great alternative to plastic options and Freddie finds the whole process, from making his toys to playing with them, very calming. Fidget toys aren't just for children, either – having something to occupy the hands also makes it easier for adults to concentrate if you're feeling restless or agitated.

If you'd like to make your own fidget toys, here's all you'll need, plus a little inspiration from Freddie and Paula.

A Creative Park template emerging from a black Canon printer positioned on a wooden shelf.

You can print templates directly from the Creative Park app, or download a PDF from the Creative Park website.

A smiling woman and a young boy sitting at a table playing with a selection of papercraft fidget toys.

Keep little hands occupied with papercraft fidget toys that are easy to download and make, and fun to play with.

1. Select your templates from Creative Park

A woman sits at a laptop showing the Canon Creative Park website. A pack of Canon printer paper, a paper windmill toy and jars of pens and scissors are on the table beside her.

You might be surprised at how many templates are waiting for you on Creative Park. Spinning tops are a great place to start, but alternative options include model dinosaurs and a cash register with working parts. The options are endless.

Creative Park makes it easy to get crafty on impulse. There are thousands of papercraft projects to choose from, ranging from Freddie's favourite fidget toys to more complex educational aids such as a pop-up ABC box.

"Freddie's interests change quite regularly," says Paula. "One minute he can be into numbers, the next he's all about bright colours, so the range available on Creative Park is really useful when searching for things that will appeal to him."

Searching for templates on Creative Park is easy. Use the drop-down menu on the desktop site, or select the Category tab from the app homepage. You can also use the search icon. If you're using Creative Park for the first time, it's a good idea to start simple. Fidget toys, such as these spinning tops, are perfect for beginners or children (with adult supervision). You can find them by searching "Origami Spinning Tops" in the search bar on the desktop version or by navigating through the Papercraft > Educational > Play categories.

2. Print on Canon Matte Photo Paper

Hands hold a sheaf of colourful Creative Park templates printed on Canon Matte Photo Paper.

Canon Matte Photo Paper is the best choice for crafting. Eye-popping colours are guaranteed, and at 170gsm (the thickness of a paper, measured in grams per square metre) it's sturdy enough to create toys and games that can be played with again and again.

Canon Matte Photo Paper is great for crafting. It's slightly thicker than standard A4 paper and it enables high-quality, bright colour reproduction, which ensures your creations pop. Load the paper into your PIXMA printer according to instructions and print your chosen templates directly from the Creative Park app, or download a PDF template from the Creative Park website to print from your computer or device.

"Freddie thrives on new ideas and needs to be stimulated, so the fact you can choose things and print them almost instantly is perfect for him," says Paula. Once you've chosen your template and loaded your paper, you'll be crafting in minutes.

3. Cut out and make

A young boy sits at a table carefully cutting out colourful shapes from a Creative Park template.

The cut lines on Creative Park templates should be easy for young children to follow, but adult supervision is always recommended.

A smiling young boy sits at a table playing with papercraft fidget toys.

Freddie was able to cut out and make his own fidget spinners, which made the whole process even more enjoyable for him.

Once you have printed your templates, the next stage is to cut them out. Simply follow the borders of the pattern and look out for the scissor icons that tell you where to make additional cuts. Fidget toys require only a few cuts, which makes them simple enough for children to make with only a small amount of assistance for safety.

Fidget spinners can easily be personalised with paint, pens or small embellishments such as glitter or stickers (remember that using paint or glitter might mean they're no longer recyclable). "I've only just discovered Creative Park," says Paula, "but I think it's an amazing resource for parents who need to entertain their children during school holidays, or bring homework projects to life.

"I've found so many ways that it can help adults too, particularly those looking for alternative, sustainable ways to decorate parties and events." There are also lots of options for printable home décor.

4. Made for adults too

Hands stick pieces of cut-out paper together with glue. Printer paper and instructions for making a papercraft toy are also on the table.

Some templates on Creative Park are a little trickier to build, and best suited to older children or adults. If you're looking for ways to entertain your friends, why not try a papercraft party? There are no limits to the amount of times you can download a template, so invite as many people as you like!

A selection of colourful papercraft toys sits on top of a Canon PIXMA printer, with tubs of pens and scissors to the side.

Each fidget spinner sheet contains multiple templates so you have lots of options to play with.

"Crafting is generally very relaxing for Freddie and he likes making things with his hands. We suggested fidget toys for him to play with a little while ago, but now he's actively seeking them out whenever he feels the need to be calm," says Paula.

Creating things with paper can be a very calming solo activity, but it's also a great way for youngsters to spend time with friends. There's no limit to the amount of times you can download the templates, so you can all have a go at creating the same thing. Once the toys are made, encourage the children to create games to play together, such as staging a puppet show for the parents.

Craft parties aren't just for children – the joy of making things with your hands is good for adults too. There are some amazing projects in Creative Park's architecture category that require a lot more time and patience, including models of Spain's Sagrada Familia and the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia.

"When it comes to crafting, kids often get involved and are happy to get messy," says Paula. "Adults on the other hand tend to have very preconceived ideas of what something should look like. Crafting with Creative Park is perfect for both groups – whether you want to personalise your designs or simply stick to the template. If you mess up, you can just print out and start again."

5. Recycle and progress to the next project

Hands hold up a grey recycling box, filled with pieces of cardboard and paper and discarded papercraft projects.

Once you're finished playing with your fidget spinners, they can be recycled with the rest of your paper and cardboard. Also, don't forget to check the recycling options for your empty Canon ink cartridges.

Canon Matte Photo Paper can be recycled alongside your regular paper/card recycling (always check your local recycling guidelines), which makes papercraft toys more sustainable than their plastic alternatives. This might not be the case if you are decorating your designs or using glue, but you could look for more sustainable options such as biodegradable glitter.

"Freddie can be quite heavy-handed," says Paula. "He can break plastic toys quite easily, which can be a shame if we've spent money on them. Free templates for toys on Creative Park means that we aren't so worried if he does break them, especially as we know the paper can be recycled."

If you're new to Creative Park, start small and work your way up to bigger and more complex projects, recycling your previous creations as you go to make space for more.

Written by Matthew Bowen

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