Making dolls with flowers is a great way to engage with nature, have fun together and learn a little bit about how flowers work. For this activity, the child should be old enough to handle a toothpick safely.
What You Need:
- An assortment of hollyhock flowers and buds
- A carrot or radish (optional)
- Collecting the flowers is part of the fun. Let your little ones help choose the flowers and buds. Explain to them that the open flowers at the bottom of the tall stalk used to be closed like the buds up top.
- If you don’t have hollyhocks in your own garden, reach out to friends and neighbors to see if you can collect from them. Both single petal and multiple petal flowers will work. Mixing and matching colors and kinds can add to the fun. If there are seeds available, consider collecting seeds to grow in your own space the following year.
- You will need at least one bud and one open flower per doll. Having extra materials is recommended. You may want to layer the flowers for fancier dresses and bodies. Also, it’s normal for some of the flowers to be damaged with handling. If some do become a little too “tattered” to be a dress, you can dissect the flowers to show the different parts of the flower. See the labeled image of the flower.
Assembling the Dolls:
- For each doll, select an open blossom to serve as the dress. If you like, you can carefully remove the pistil (holding the pollen) and the female parts, the stamen. Now take a closed bud and gently peel back the sepals (green parts) until you have the colored petals showing. This will be the doll’s head.
- Take a toothpick and send it through the center of the inverted open blossom. If the toothpick is only sharp at one end, poke the pointy side up. Now you can layer on another inverted blossom for a fuller dress or a smaller blossom for the body if you like. Next add the bud at the top for a head. To give a natural face, try tilting the bud to stick the toothpick into one of the five indentations. The area where the bud was attached to the stalk will serve as the mouth.
- Your doll should be able to stand on it’s own. If you find it a little tippy, you can add another toothpick with one end stuck under the skirt and the other end in a carrot or radish slice to create a stand.
- Use your imagination. You can add petals or a blossom to the head for a hat. Try layering multiple colors of flowers for a fancier dress. You can even draw your own face on the doll or add arms with a toothpick or a sprig of greenery. The only rule is to have fun.
- Your new doll is all dressed up and ready to dance, pose for a picture or just sit pretty atop your dinner table.
- To keep your doll fresher longer, place the doll in a storage bag and keep in the fridge overnight
Notes on Hollyhocks:
Hollyhocks are part of the mallow family. Their scientific name is Alcea rosea. Every part of the plant is edible, making it a great one for a kid’s activity. The flower petals can be used to spruce up a salad or make a tea. Leaves can be steamed lightly and placed on inflamed skin. The roots have a variety of medicinal uses ranging from improving appetite to treating dysentery and breathing disorders. Please consult your physician before using natural materials to treat disease.
Hollyhocks come in many colors. They like to grow in full sun and do fine in poor, hard soil, making them easy to grow. If you live in zones 5-9, they will also reseed themselves giving you years of pleasure and fun.
Important note: Whenever making a craft with children using flowers and other plant materials, the best rule of thumb is to check to be sure nothing has been sprayed with chemicals. If you plan to use the crafts on your food table, then this is a must. Never use florist flowers or sprayed flowers near food even if you are only using them for decoration or garnish.