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EASY BOOK CHARACTER COSTUMES FOR KIDS

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Ladyland's Emma Scott-Child has World Book Day covered

As World Book Day (March 2) approaches and your fear and dread escalates, we have found five FOOL-PROOF costumes which won't take you any time at all, thanks to Tantrum Creative Network member Emma Scott-Child from Ladyland...

This year it is the 20th anniversary of World Book Day! It is the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and celebrated in more than 100 countries all over the world. 15 million children will be given tokens for brand new books to enjoy, and if this isn't worth celebrating then what is?

But the last thing anyone wants to do is spend loads of money or get into a fight with a bowl of papier mache. Here are some ideas for simple costumes that cost less than £5 and which require just some paper and cardboard. NO SEWING! Yay! You don’t need to be a craft nerd to make these happen, they are easy to make and won’t take a long time. My little helpers loved making theirs.

HOW TO MAKE A MR MESSY COSTUME

From Mr Messy by Roger Hargreaves

What you need:

  • 2 sheets of white card
  • Pink and black paint
  • Tape (cellotape or masking tape will do)
  • Some rope

How you make it:

1. Paint great big messy swirls on each of the sheets of cardboard, then add his face. I didn’t bother with his hands or feet, just his body to keep it simple.

2. Cut out the body shape
3. Stick some tape to the back where you’re going to poke the holes for the rope. This will stop it from tearing.
4. Poke holes with scissors (grown up job!) through the taped area for the rope.
5. Thread the rope through and tie knots in the end at the right length. It’s best to do this while it’s on the child so you get the length right and it’s even on both sides.  Here’s a close up so you can see how I did it...

 

HOW TO MAKE A LADYBIRD COSTUME

From What The Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson

You will need:

  • One sheet of red cardboard
  • Some black paint
  • A sponge or potato to print the circles
  • Some rope
  • For the hat – some old black tights and a pipe cleaner

How to do it:

1. Cut your red card into two ladybird wing shapes. Start by drawing and cutting one, then use it as a template to trace around for the second one, then you’ll have two exactly the same.
2. Cut a sponge into a circle or slice a potato in half (for potato printing tips, see this one we did a while ago).

3. Print the spots on using the sponge or potato. Three spots per wing.

4. Stick some tape to the back where you’re going to poke the holes for the rope. This will stop it from tearing.
5. Poke holes with scissors (grown up job!) through the taped area for the rope. You’ll need two holes on each wing, one above the other.

6. Thread the rope through like I have in the image above to form two arm loops. It’s best to tie it off while it’s on the child so you get the length right. You can tuck the knot in so it ends up behind the armpit and you don’t really see it.

To make the hat:

1. Cut tube of fabric off a pair of tights and tie the end in a knot to form a beanie shape. Turn it inside out so you don’t see the knot.
2. Cut two small holes near the end edge and thread the pipe cleaner in one hole and out the other so the ends stick out the top.
3. Bend the pipe cleaner into antennae.

SHH, don't say a word!

HOW TO MAKE THE CAT IN THE HAT COSTUME

From The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss

This one is the most complex of the lot and it takes a little bit longer, but it looks great if you have the patience for it and the cat is such an iconic character.

You will need:

  • One sheet of red card and one sheet of white card
  • Some red crepe paper for the bow
  • White paint for the stripes
  • A dinner plate to trace around
  • Double sided tape
  • Gaffer tape
  • String to fasten the bow
  • Some eyeliner to draw whiskers

1. Paint the stripes on the sheet of red card parallel to the longest edge of the sheet of cardboard. I used a roller because it makes it easier to paint thick straight lines. 

2. Rule a line along each long edge of the red cardboard, about 15mm from the edge, with the pencil.
3. Cut up to this line at small intervals all the way along the edge. Like this below. These will fold out to form tabs which will attach the red tube part of the hat to the brim. 

4. Do the same at the other side. These ones will fold inwards to attach the red tube part of the hat to the top.

5. Roll it up (measuring the size of your little cat’s head) and stick the edges together with double sided tape to form the tube.

6. Fold out the little tabs. 

7. Trace around a dinner plate to make the shape for the brim. Cut out two of these circles out of the white cardboard. 

8. Now place the tube on top of one of the circles and trace the size of the inner circle, using the tube as a template.
9. Cut the circle out of the middle. Don’t cut it too large to start with, cut it smaller than you think you’ll need it then test it out on your little cat’s head and sliding it onto the tube. You might need to go back and forth a bit to get the size of the inner circle just right so that it fits perfectly on the tube. 

10. Trace the inner hole on the other circle piece, and cut that one out to form a ring too, if you do it very neatly, you can use this smaller circle from the middle as the piece for the top. 

11. Tape the tabs to the rim of the hat with gaffer tape. The result will look a bit messy (see below), but that’s why you have the extra ring to stick over it to cover the tape. 

12. Stick double sided tape on top of the gaffer taped part. This will hold the second ring on to finish the brim. 

13. Stick on the second ring to hide all the tape.
14. Now fold the tabs on the top end inwards so they can hold the top circle. 

  

15.  Stick double sided tape around the edge of the top circle, then attach it to the top. You’ll have to stick your arm right inside the hat and press on the tabs from inside to secure it. 

To make the Cat in the Hat bow:

1. Cut two lengths of crepe paper, about 80cm long each and one smaller piece that will wrap around the middle
2. Fold one in half to make the long, dangling pieces of the bow
3. Fold the other into a bowtie shape by bringing the ends into the centre, to make a flat loop, then fasten the ends with tape in the centre. 

4. Add the long dangly bit by bunching both pieces together in the centre, then wrap the small piece around both pieces and fasten with tape at the back to hold it all together.
5. Thread string through the smaller centre piece, then tie the string around the neck.  

6. Draw on whiskers and a little black nose.

HOW TO MAKE THE 'BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY' COSTUME

From The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This is a little more time consuming than the others but kids over the age of six could do it on their own with a little supervision which is an afternoon of ‘educational, creative fun time’ sorted. Butterfly wings are always fun to flap about in and everyone remembers how spectacular The Very Hungry Caterpillar is when he emerges from his cocoon.

You will need:

  • One small piece of white card for the mask (roughly A4), two large sheets for the wings.
  • Tissue paper, coloured paper scraps, or painted paper to make the collage.
  • String for the mask
  • A glue stick to stick it together
  • Rope to hold on the wings

To make the mask:

1. Fold the small piece of card in half and draw a butterfly wing shape.

2. Cut around it while it’s folded to it opens out into a symmetrical butterfly shape.

3. Cut lots of pieces of coloured paper and stick them on just like Eric Carle’s collage in the book.

4. Hold it up to your little butterfly’s face and measure where their eyes are.
5. Cut the eye holes. I find it’s easier to use nail scissors for this bit.

6. Poke two holes in each side for the string
7. Thread the string through and put it on!

To make the wings:

1. Follow the instructions for the ladybird wings above, but add some collage like on the mask.

HOW TO MAKE JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH COSTUME

From the book by Roald Dahl

You will need:

  • One sheet of white card for the peach
  • Some peach coloured paint
  • Some extra cardboard to make the critters that live inside
  • Pencils to draw and colour the critters

How to make it:

1. Draw a peach shape on the piece of cardboard. The bigger the better!
2. Paint your peach 

3. Draw your insect friends 

4. Cut them out and add them to the peach. We made it look like they were climbing out of a hole in the peach. 

5. That’s it!!

Photography and styling: Emma Scott-Child from Ladyland
HUGE thanks to her crafty little models: Elliot, Eve and Frida. 

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