Paper mache literally means “chewed paper” in French. The traditional method for making paper mache is soaking strips of paper in glue/paste and then placing them over a base/mould. Once the paper mache is dry, it can be decorated with paints.
** IMPORTANT ** Make sure the glue is completely dry before painting your paper mache object, otherwise it can get mouldy.
One of the most common bases/moulds for papier mache is a balloon, but there are other more eco-friendly things you can use as bases or moulds for your kids’ paper mache creations, including:
- cardboard pieces, boxes and tubes
- newspaper, scrap paper and tissue paper
- aluminium foil
- egg cartons
- empty drink bottles and containers
- recycled bottles, jars and lids
- paper cups and plates
You can make your own paper mache glue/paste with flour and water.
Here are some of our favourite paper mache projects for your kids to try!
Paper mache bowls from The Spruce
This tutorial gives basic instructions and tips for making paper mache, including a video showing you how to make paper mache bowls.
Paper mache bananas from Meri Cherry
The basic banana shape is made with newspaper and masking tape, covered in paper mache and then painted.
Paper mache butterfly from Kids activities blog
The butterfly body is made from a newspaper base and covered in a single layer of paper mache. Cardboard wings and wire antennae are attached to the body, then the whole butterfly is decorated.
Paper mache fish ornaments from Homeschool activities
The base for these fish ornaments is paper plates and pieces of cardboard. Once the basic fish shape has been assembled, it is covered in several layers of paper mache. Kids can then use their imagination to paint their fish whatever colours they like.
Paper mache frogs from MollyMooCrafts
The base for these frogs is cardboard cones and newspaper. Again, once the basic frog shape has been put together, it is covered in several layers of paper mache, then painted in bright colours and patterns
Paper mache dinosaur cave from Crayon box chronicles
Recycled bottles, jars, lids and cardboard tubes form the basic frame for the dinosaur cave, which is covered in a couple of layers of paper mache. The cave can then be used for dinosaur small world play.
Paper mache mobile from Art Bar Blog
The balls for this mobile are made with aluminium foil and several layers of paper mache, then allowed to dry. They are then wrapped with string, covered with more paper mache, and again allowed to dry. Finally, they are painted and attached to a fabric covered wire clothes hanger.
Paper mache bracelets from MollyMooCrafts
Cut cardboard circles to size, then cover in layers of paper mache. They can be painted in bright colours and designs.
Paper mache letters from Apex Elementary Art
Cut out cardboard letters, place paper cups in between the 2 layers and tape all the edges together. Cover in layers of paper mache, then decorate.
Homemade puppets from Krokotak
These puppets use a simplified paper mache technique with recycled plastic bottles, aluminium foil and coloured tissue paper for the heads. Felt bodies are then attached to the decorated puppet heads.
Have your kids ever tried making anything with paper mache before?
We would love to see their creations – just post to Facebook or Instagram with #littlegreencrafters.
You can find heaps more fun paper crafts on our Pinterest page here.
This is part of a series featuring paper crafts. Click on the links below for more.