Mini Monets and Mommies: Kids' Paper Mache Sculpture Activity

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kids' Paper Mache Sculpture Activity

Paper mache art with kids is ooey, gooey and it's messy. When I say messy, I don't mean messy like your child may have a stray marker mark on her hand or that a dab of paint could get on the table. It's majorly messy, and that's half the fun.

Kids Sculpture

 Put the temptation to constantly clean up after your little mess-maker or wipe her hands every other minute on hold. Yes, you should prep for the mess. But, no, you shouldn't go overboard cleaning while the art-making is going on. Accept that a mess will happen, let your child explore the process and pretend that you have someone else to clean up afterwards (if that helps you to stop hovering with a wet rag). Before you begin, cover your work surface. You can use old newspaper, but the paper mache mix is likely to leak through. Try a painter's tarp or even a cut-open garbage bag instead.

What You'll Need:

  • Paper mache mix: You can buy this at your local arts and crafts store (make sure that is labeled for your child's age and is non-toxic). Follow the directions for mixing it on the package. I prefer the powdered kind to anything else. The first time that I used it was when I started teaching kids' art classes. My co-teacher told me to mix the powder with water until it felt like warm snot. When I told her that I've never stuck my hand into a bowl full of warm snot, she said that I'd just know. She was right. It does feel exactly like you'd imagine warm snot to feel. If you don't want to use a store-bought mix, you can mix water and flour (it gets kind of chalky) or clear-drying school glue with a small amount of water. There are a zillion recipes on the Internet for these at-home mixes. I like to pour about 1/4 of an inch of school glue into the bottom of a Tupperware container, and then slowly stir in enough water to make it the consistency of lumpy milk.
  • A plastic bowl: Don't plan on reusing it for anything other than art.
  • Paper: Some people like to reuse newspaper scraps. That's fine. I like construction paper.If you don't want to tear up brand new paper, save your child's scraps from other art activities, and use them for this one.
  • Something to use as a base: Your child has to cover "something." She can just wrap the paper strips around the air - it won't work out well for anyone. Look for an object that is roughly the same shape as what she wants to make. For example, I'm making a paper mache Easter egg, so I chose a balloon as a base. You can also tape a few different objects together, such as toilet paper tubes to the bottom of a sideways soda bottle to make the legs and body of a horse.
Kids' art

What To Do:

  1. Tear the paper into strips. The size depends on what your child is covering. If she has a large surface to cover make the strips bigger.
Kids' art


2. Have your child dip her first strip into the  mixture, coating both the front and back. Squeegee off the excess by having her run the strip in-between two fingers.
3. Wrap the first strip over or around the surface of whatever she's covering. She can use her hand to smooth the strip down.
4. Repeat this process, slightly overlapping the strips, until the entire surface is covered
5. Set the project aside to dry. If it's uber-wet (which it most likely is), it may take a day or two.
6. Add to the paper mache project. Your child can paint her project with temperas, she can add googley eyes or she can embellish it with glued-on fabric scraps, craft fur or almost anything else that both of your imaginations can come up with.


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