Out of this world: space-themed papercraft

Shoot for the stars with Canon Creative Park, a PIXMA printer, paper, scissors and some glue.
A papercraft astronaut sitting on a wooden table, surrounded by other space-themed papercraft templates from Canon Creative Park.

Children's phases can change like the wind, which is why recyclable crafts are a great way to explore new passions. Available as a website and app, Creative Park is a fantastic, free resource packed with thousands of templates and papercraft ideas. There are plenty of options for space fanatics to choose, suitable for crafters of all ages and skill levels, from a straightforward solar system mobile to an intricately detailed replica of the Mars Rover "Curiosity".

Papercrafting also offers the opportunity to educate through activity, helping to fire up young minds with questions and spark imaginations so you'll be playing space-themed games for weeks to come. You could even tie in your cosmic craft session with an upcoming celestial event, such as a supermoon, eclipse, or meteoroid shower.

Mike and Gen Sidaway and their three children – Chloe, Halle and Luke – have a serious interest in space, and couldn't wait to blast off with a selection of astronomical designs. Discover how they got on.

Planning your interstellar adventure

A family sitting around a coffee table, on which sits a Canon PIXMA printer and a selection of space-themed papercraft models made from Creative Park templates.

"Not only was this a lovely way to spend time together but I found it really mindful," enthuses Gen, pictured here with Mike, Chloe, Halle and Luke. "I think I'll try the scrapbooking templates next, but there are also so many seasonal decorations I want to do."

Like most of the papercraft options you'll find on Creative Park, the outer space selections don't require any special equipment. Just be sure to check the instructions for each template you choose, as some occasionally need items like string, elastic bands or colouring pens. Here is a list of the general equipment you'll need:

Select your space template

A person browses through the space-themed templates on Canon Creative Park on their laptop. Next to the laptop is a pack of Canon photo paper and behind it, a Canon PIXMA printer and an assembled papercraft astronaut sit on a shelf.

Gen and Mike used the star ratings listed with each of the templates on Creative Park as a guide to help them decide which crafts would best suit their children's skill level. "I just love how many different templates there are," says Gen. "The girls have already picked out some dollhouses they want to make, and Luke likes the look of the dinosaur crafts."

Selecting which design you want to boldly explore sounds easy enough, but it can be tougher than you think with dozens of space-inspired papercraft options to choose from. While the brightly coloured hanging moon decoration will delight smaller children, an array of rockets, such as the Saturn V or the Space Shuttle set, should inspire older minds to learn while they craft. Discussing what your child might like to build is a great way to start exploring the topic – from the planets in our solar system to how a spacecraft works. You might even learn something yourself!

Each crafting template comes with a star rating, indicating the difficulty level, and information on roughly how long it should take to make. The Sidaways have children across the age range, so it was important that they chose wisely. "The ratings were really helpful," explains Gen. "Creative Park is huge and there's so much choice, so they helped us to decide what would be best for each child. There really was something for everyone."

Get ready to print

A hand holds the edge of a Creative Park template emerging from a Canon PIXMA printer sitting alongside assembled space-themed papercraft models.

"I was really impressed with how straightforward it was to set up the Canon PIXMA TS7650i; you just plug it in and it literally tells you what to do," says Mike. "The printing itself was also incredibly simple, whether we used the smartphone app or the computer."

When you've chosen your design, select print and within seconds your template will be ready and waiting. Mike says he liked the convenience of printing directly from his smartphone via the Creative Park app. "We tried printing directly from the app and from the computer, and found both methods to be really easy and intuitive," he adds. "Just follow the simple instructions, and let the printer do the rest."

The templates are printed in seconds and immediately touch dry, thanks to the printer's long-lasting PIXMA ink. "I was so glad the templates printed so quickly because it meant each child had something to do," says Gen. "Otherwise there could have been a lot of waiting around, which would have meant the kids getting bored and maybe going off to do something else. Also, thanks to the Canon Matte Photo Paper we used, the ink settled nicely so there was no smudging."

Assembling your templates

A mother helps her son use a pair of scissors to cut a space-themed papercraft template from Canon Creative Park.

From cutting and scoring edges to folding and sticking, every member of the family got involved with building the space-themed papercraft models.

Two children sitting at a table, one holding a booklet on facts about the Sun, and the other holding an assembled papercraft template from Creative Park.

The Sun is 149 million kilometres away from the Earth – just one of many space-related facts the Sidaway children learned while making their crafts.

Once your template is printed, it's time to cut and fold. You could use scissors, or for more advanced templates, a craft knife and cutting board. Remember to score the lines once folded to ensure the templates keep their shape and follow the list of step-by-step instructions which most templates come with. "Study the patterns and work out who is going to tackle which bit in advance," says Mike.

Gen adds: "My top tip is to use an old pen which has run out of ink and a ruler to score the parts. It doesn't cut all the way through but still makes a deep enough impression – and remember to do this before glueing."

You could use PVA, a glue gun, glue dots, an eco-friendly alternative or even tape to fix your templates together – the glue you use may also determine whether your creations are recyclable. You might need to hold some templates in place with clips or pegs while they dry to maintain their shape. Gen recommends using a quick-drying glue or even thin double-sided tape to speed up the sticking process.

To help boost your child's self-esteem, allow them to tackle some tasks independently, while making other models together as a family bonding exercise. That's the strategy Mike and Gen used, and their daughter Chloe said she really enjoyed it. "We've learned about space at school, but building the structure of the Sun model with my mum taught me things I didn't know. It was also really nice spending time together as a family, doing something creative."

As well as the model of the Sun and its accompanying fact booklet, Chloe and Gen worked on the more intricate astronaut, while Mike helped Halle and Luke with the Mars and Moon dioramas. "The younger ones enjoyed all the cutting out and sticking, but I think most of all they loved playing with the astronaut on the diorama sets once everything was finished," says Mike.

Blast off into play

A person places a papercraft Sun, created from a Creative Park template, on a shelf.

"I'm so surprised but so happy with how much we've enjoyed making these educational and fun papercrafts together as a family," says Gen. "Not only do the kids still play with them, but they still talk about how much they enjoyed making them."

A child places a papercraft astronaut in a Creative Park Moon diorama.

Building papercraft templates from Creative Park is not only a fun and enriching family activity, but you can also play with the models again and again. Halle and Luke have spent hours pretending the astronaut is exploring new planets.

Once all the crafting is done and the glue has dried, sit back, admire your handiwork and let your space adventure begin. "We have had so much fun playing with our spaceman," enthuses middle-child Halle. "We pretend he's going on adventures all over the house, jumping from planet to planet. I love how much detail there is and how you can move the arms and legs." Luke, the youngest, adds: "I like to make him fly through the air."

As well as playing with their new space models, Gen says they will make great additions to the children's bedrooms. "The dioramas look super eye-catching on their bookshelves, plus, they're all things they can play with again and again." Not to mention being a heartwarming, tangible memory of time well spent with family.

So, next time your child looks up at the vast night sky and asks you what's out there, use Creative Park to fuel their thirst for knowledge and awaken their imaginations. Perhaps you will be inspired to print what you see through a telescope, or to photograph the planet, star or satellite to see how they compare. Check out our Pinterest page for more papercraft inspiration, and don't forget to share your otherworldly creations on social media using the #MadeWithPIXMA hashtag.

Written by Natalie Denton

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