Make: Paper Faces from Simple Shapes

Drawing faces is something kids (and the rest of us doodlers) love to do, but sometimes find challenging when staring at a blank piece of paper or drawing prompt. Today we’re making faces a little easier by taking out the drawing piece and using some simple cutout shapes to make paper faces!

Minimal prep and supplies make this an easy but creative collage activity that’s endlessly entertaining for kids (and adults playing along). By adding the limitation of using only a few simple shapes the challenge becomes more of a game that can easily blossom into an afternoon-long play experiment.

To make your own simple shape paper faces you’ll need:


  • Paper (I just used newsprint and some scrap construction paper)
  • Scissors


Simple shape paper face instructions:

  1. Print our face shape template set (optional!)

    This is completely optional, but I’ve made a face shape printable set and example page of faces you can download for free and print if you’d like to start with a template.
    Make endless faces with a few simple shapes! A creative activity + free printable templates for kids via barley and birch

  2. Cut a variety of simple shapes from scrap paper

    For younger children, start with some precut shapes cut out of a thicker paper or cardstock. I’ve included the link to download our shape template below – in addition to the basic shapes we used in our example, it includes a bunch of mini-patterns for those who want to make more of a game of it! 

    Any simple shape works well, but I’ve found it’s best to have a few different sizes of circles, some triangles or squares, and a few irregular shapes.

  3. Arrange and play

    Move the shapes around to create different funny faces! You can use a glue stick to glue your faces down permanently, or just enjoy arranging and rearranging.

When cutting out our paper shapes, we cut out a pair of each shape so we could have some matching sizes (for eyes, etc.) but also be able to have some backups in case of rips, tears, or spills. We used newsprint to add some subtle texture, but younger kiddos are probably going to appreciate the bright colors and shapes more than anything else.

Make endless faces with a few simple shapes! A creative art activity for kids. | via barley and birch

For older artists, it’s fun to give a few visual examples along with papers of different textures and patterns for them to cut up on their own. I can’t stress the importance of providing a few examples as an introduction FIRST enough. Some kids will be content to just experiment, but others are going to want or need a visual cue. Like a small-scale Pinterest or Google-ing, seeing some references can open doors to ideas and make free exploration feel a little more fun and comfortable.

No matter what age your maker is, watching them go through the process of observation, experimentation, and ultimately creating something that’s 100% a product of their own perception is absolutely thrilling.

Frankly, I get just as enthused watching adults go through this process – it’s a great reminder that there are endless possibilities and surprises in life. No matter how tired a path or idea seems, people will always surprise you – and those surprises are what make us all smarter, more creative, more empathetic, and more connected to each other.

Another face-making idea for young artists…

And as an extra bonus, here’s yet ANOTHER super fun face-making game for you and the littles to try…(a word to the serial doodlers out there…its addictive)…

Simple, colorful shapes are one of my VERY favorite ways to introduce younger kids to art concepts, and help older learners discover their own talents.

Our scrap paper quick collages and simple color exploration grids are wonderful ways to explore art with young children.

More advanced art enthusiasts can combine shapes in a variety of mediums with our scrap stamp shape collages, Celestino Piatti-inspired garden art, recycled cardboard castles, or our fold-out city landscape books.


Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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