Newspaper magic
Classroom arts and crafts and newspaper magic with Scott Dunlop.
Scott Dunlop
When I was a kid, perhaps four or five years old, there was a child in my class who was asked to sit on newspaper during story time. He was in the habit of losing control of his bladder, for whatever reason. To this day, I wonder if he’s able to even look at a newspaper without feeling uncomfortable. Of course, newspapers are in fewer households these days.

I’ll realise that every time I need to throw out leftovers (which I used to wrap in paper to stop those appalling leaks into the bin) or get the kids going on some craft project. Newspaper used to be the perfect disposable tablecloth for painting activities. Not to mention glitter.

One simple Mother’s Day card project later, and your house will appear to be inhabited by My Little Pony. Glittery carpets, glittery walls and glittery food. Your colleagues will only pretend to believe you when you come to work claiming the glitter all over your eyes and cheeks is from crafting and not some wild party, but no card is quite finished without glitter.

I remember pretending to be a spy as a child, and my Book of Spycraft suggested cutting holes in a newspaper and sitting in the park to observe people. It was fun, then, but now I’d certainly get arrested.

We used to make papier-mâché masks using balloons and newspaper, boats to float down the river while we wore newspaper pirate hats, wrap up pass-the-parcel gifts in it and use it to start braais (and other random fires).

All that was after we’d read it, of course. My brothers and me bickering over who gets which bit of the Sunday papers. The comics, the magazine and the rest of the news. Too often, those arguments would end up with us whacking each other over the head with rolled-up classified sections.

Nowadays I get my news online. No black-inked fingers for me… I don’t walk down to the corner shop the way my dad used to for the paper. I don’t see the headline posters in the streets and rush off to get a copy- no- I simply Google the news when I get home.

My own children get house points at school for bringing in recycling. My lack of newspaper reading has severely hindered their house’s chances of ever coming first. We also have spray paint outlines on the paving in the back yard for the same reason: No paper. When the time comes to move house, I can’t imagine what we’ll wrap all of the glassware and crockery in.

We adapt. Even if newspaper in paper form vanishes completely one day, we’ll still read the news, in the same way that we still watch movies even though VHS is utterly obsolete. My children may grow up to a paperless world, but hopefully we’ll still have forests. Of course, if the forests die out because nobody makes money out of them for printing newspapers, we’ll have to read about that online.

One generation. From that boy in my class forced to sit on a newspaper, to a classroom where newspapers are becoming harder to find.

Now I understand what they said about living to create an environment which will be better for children.

What do you miss from your childhood in this modern world? Tell us about it at, and you could win a R250 voucher.

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