Silly Billy Worry Dolls for Kids- How to make your own

How to Make Your Own Worry Dolls_ My Little Bookcase

Worrying is a natural behaviour of children.

Cammy is quite confident, and she’s also a problem solver. But like her mum, she is an over-thinker. The mind can be busy and easily distracted during the day; but the inner worrywart can escape when bedtime comes around and one is lying alone in a bedroom that is dark and quiet.
This is exactly what happens to my Cammy. She’s started having nightmares too (something else I seem to have passed on to her). Before she goes to sleep, she worries that her previous nightmares might return.

We recently found this book in the library, which is a few years old now. Silly Billy provides a practical strategy for children who worry. Told in a beautiful narrative, it draws on the traditional South American tradition of children sharing their worries with handcrafted worry dolls (You can read more about the book at the end of this post).

Children's Book Review of Silly Billy by Anthony Browne

The book and the idea really worked for Cammy. We purchased a set of worry dolls from Oxfam (I have also seen them in Ishka). They are inexpensive and sales also help craft workers in Guatemala.  For Cammy, the worry dolls acted as friends for her to talk to instead of churning over negative thoughts and worries on her own.

In the story, Billy creates more worry dolls for his friends.  Cammy wanted to make some too. Worry dolls are traditionally made from scraps of fabric and small splinters of timber. I wasn’t sure that her small hands could manage working with such fine materials.

Instead, I decided to use these gorgeous peg dolls from This Heart of Mine as inspiration for our own set of worry dolls. Of course, they are not traditional but using pegs instead of splinters of wood help pre-schoolers to create their own set with ease.

How to make your own worry dolls for kids:

You will need:

Make Your Own Worry Dolls for Kids_ supplies

  • 6 pegs (Worry dolls are traditionally very colourful, so we used pre-coloured craft pegs)
  • A selection of cotton thread/strands
  • Scissors
  • A permanent marker
  • Glue

  • Wrap the cotton around the peg doll.
  • To stop the cotton from unwinding, I positioned the beginning of the strand vertically and secured it in place by wrapping the rest of the strand over it.

How to Make Your Own Worry Dolls_My Little Bookcase

  • Once the cotton was secure, Cammy was able to continue wrapping the cotton around the peg.
  • Cammy discovered that lying the cotton on the table and rolling the peg was the easiest process for her.

How To Make Your Own Worry Dolls for Kids_My Little Bookcase

  • The end of the strand could easily be secured by a new piece of cotton (which could be a different colour)
  • We placed a small amount of glue over the end of the cotton to hold it in place and stop it from unwinding during use and play
  • We added a face to each peg with permanent marker

How to make your own worry dolls for kids_ My Little Bookcase

Cammy loves her new set of worry dolls. The are beautiful, useful and kid-made with love. Her traditional worry dolls have a permanent home under her pillow, but this set is used in many of ways. She plays with them, and she lets her dolls and teddies use them when they have a sleep over in her room. Sometimes they just sleep alongside her with her other worry dolls.

How to make your own worry dolls for kids

Children’s Book Review:

Silly Billy by Anthony Browne

ISBN: 978-1406305760

Format: Paperback

Publisher: Walker Books Ltd, November 2007

Suitable for ages: 4+

When Billy goes to bed at night, he worries about a lot of things, such as hats, shoes, clouds and big birds. Although his mum and dad try their best, they can’t help ease his worries.

While having a sleepover at his grandmother’s house, she introduces Billy to a set of worry dolls, something she had when she was a child. Grandma instructs Billy to give each of the six dolls a worry for them to take, and to place the dolls under his pillow.

But problems aren’t that easily solved for a worrier. Billy starts to worry that his worry dolls have too many worries. He thoughtfully sets about creating worry dolls for them, and for his friends.

The book is bright, beautiful and bold, and also comes with an explanation of the origin and purpose of worry dolls.

About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase

Silly Billy Worry Dolls for Kids- How to make your own


  1. Wow I love these, what a nice craft to make together to help an anxious/worrying child. I could see my daughter really loving these. Pinning for sure!

  2. My daughter has been anxious about…well, everything lately! I’m going to try this worry dolls with her. (And look for this book at the library too!) Thanks for the idea!

  3. Beautiful idea Jackie.

  4. I love how her worry doll came out – hopefully her set also helps her to put her busy mind to rest. Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!

  5. They are very cute, a great craft idea.
    I used to have worry dolls when I was young , you’ve got me wondering what happened to them now

  6. I have never heard of these before but what a lovely idea. I’m sure I could also use them to help my son with other emotions too.

  7. One of my girls is a worrier too. I’m sure she would love some real worry dolls and I have always meant to buy some for her. I remember borrowing this book once from the library too. I think she would love making her own even more than the bought ones :-)

  8. My Mr M can be an over thinker and can then become overly anxious about various things… (just like his mum!) :). I simply adore Anthony Browne’s work… and your worry dolls are just too awesome. So simple and such an engaging activity. Thank you xo P

  9. What a creative and gorgeous solution for those pesky bed time worries.

  10. what a cute idea, my kids would love making them. I would love it if you could share it on my link party Serenity Saturday

    Natasha @ Serenity You

  11. This is one of our favourite books. I love your worry dolls – so simple and yet so fun and colourful.

  12. I love Anthony Browne’s books but I haven’t actually got Silly Billy. I will have to add it to my massive wishlist :) This is a great simple activity to do, thanks for sharing;

  13. These are great! I’m featuring this post on this week’s Tuesday Tots. Thanks for linking it up! :)

  14. I have a worrier. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I’ll have to seek it out. :)

  15. Love it! I am featuring this post on the After School Linky tomorrow on BMTM!

  16. I love this! I spent 18 months in Guatemala when I was a kid (7 and 8 years old), and I had a little set of worry dolls that I loved! I will have to see if I can find some for my kids – they would make wonderful Christmas gifts for this year!

  17. Wow what a great book and craft!! I’m pinning this to use later… I suspect when my son starts school we may be addressing some anxiety and worrying, so this will be very helpful. Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. These are SO adorable!!! I can see why they have been seen all over the place. I love the book ‘Silly Billy’ and it takes me back. I need to look out for a copy for my little girl.

  19. Gorgeous!

  20. Love this idea. We had a worry doll for dad once but it went missing when we moved.. It would be wonderful to make some at home and read this book along with! thanks for sharing on Kid Lit Blog Hop!
    -Reshama @ Stackingbooks

  21. I had not heard of these before. What a good idea. I wonder how well the dolls would work for boys? Guess I need to read the book. Thank for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop! Cheryl, Hop Hostess

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