Games And Craft Activities: Interesting Things To Do With Old Catalogs

Old mail-order catalogs do not have to be thrown away- they can still be used for many interesting games and activities.

Very few people have successfully avoided receiving solicited or unsolicited catalogs in their daily mail. Interested shoppers can order everything from candy to lingerie to medical devices through these catalogs, but eventually these booklets collect in piles and are thrown away in due time. But these catalogs can still be put to some interesting uses if parents would take the time to recycle them. Some of these games and art projects may require more than one copy of each catalog, so parents may have to pool their resources together.

Here are some ideas for children's activities using old catalogs:

1. Memory game. This rainy day game can be constructed with two copies of an old catalog, several sheets of poster board or scrap cardboard, scissors, school glue and a package of medium or large sticky notes. Many of these supplies can be found at deep discount stores that feature merchandise under a dollar.

To set up the memory game, select the same images from two identical catalogs and cut them out. For smaller children, images of toys or recognizable faces would work best. Older children might do well with more detailed pictures. Keep each pair of images together until the catalogs have been thoroughly scoured for usable pictures. Take a sheet of poster board or blank cardboard and carefully glue the images in several rows, making sure the pairs are randomly dispersed. Once the glue has dried, the individual pictures should be covered completely with sticky notes. Numbers or letters may be added to the notes for easier reference by the players, but aren't strictly necessary. Continue to construct memory boards until all the individual images have been used up.

To play the game, you'll need a minimum of two players or two equal teams. Each side pulls off two sticky notes at a time, revealing the image below. If the images match, the player keeps the sticky notes. If they do NOT match, the player reattaches the notes and the other side takes its turn. The game is over when all of the sticky notes have been removed. The player (or team) with the most notes collected is declared the winner. New games should be played with new boards until enough time has elapsed for repetition.

2. Scavenger hunt. This game calls for two copies of numerous catalogs with different themes.

The game's moderator should find a substantial number of specific products inside these catalogs and write them down on separate note cards. The catalogs are placed in two piles across the room from the two selected teams. The moderator tells both teams the name and the price of a specific item, then the teams are given a signal to sort through their pile and find the listing which matches the item. The first team to reach the moderator with the right catalog and page wins a point. The first team to a designated point level is the overall winner.

For example, the moderator may call out 'Find a personalized dog collar for $8.99!' After a GO signal, both teams run to the pile of catalogs and begin searching. One of the catalogs is from a pet supply store, and the $8.99 dog collar is located on page 9. Teams must narrow down to the sort of catalogs which feature pet items, then quickly scan for the specific item named by the moderator. Once a team member locates page 9 of the pet catalog, the team runs to the moderator for verification. If the ad is correct, the team receives a point. Another item is then announced and the game begins again.

3. Crazy collages. Old catalogs can be the basis for some humorous combinations. Children can be given scissors, glue and paper in order to attach images cut out of catalogs. They might put a dog's head on a fashion model's body and add a few toy UFOs in the background. Some may construct funny sayings by cutting out individual words and phrases. Older children might also create entire comic book scenes or funny 'fake advertisements'.

4. Holiday dioramas. Many catalogs cater to specific holidays, which means plenty of appropriate images for a display. Parents will need to find small cardboard boxes and stiff cardstock for mounting the images. Some may want to use small wooden stakes or toothpicks and pieces of floral styrofoam as a base. This exercise will teach children about perspective as they select a background image and layer the images from back to front. Older children may also enjoy adding small electric lights or moving parts for even more realism.

5. Decoupage projects. Some catalogs feature miniature art prints which can be used to decorate lamps or walls. Dollhouses could also be decorated with decoupaged images from artwork catalogs. Catalogs may also provide more abstract images that can be rearranged artistically and decoupaged onto jewelry boxes or storage trunks.

Decoupage is a technique in which paper images are covered with a thin glue and attached to a surface also prepared with decoupage glue. Once the image has been set, another layer of glue is applied to seal it securely to the surface. The glue eventually dries clear and the image may appear to be handpainted. Different decoupage glues can give the image an antiqued appearance or a crackled surface. Small artistic images from a catalog are ideal for smaller projects such as lampshades and headboards. Larger projects such as wall borders may require a substantial number of images, so some pre-planning may need to be done.

© High Speed Ventures 2011