Paper mache

Duration: any

Age: toddler, child

Skill for Bub: Hand/eye coordination, Just for fun, Mind builder


Make some great projects with a basic lesson in paper mache

If you have young children then of course your house has lots of paper lying around everywhere. Don’t keep adding it to the recycle bin; let the kids use it up as they learn about papier mache.

Papier mache is French for mashed paper. Nowadays it simply describes the process of gluing strips of paper over an object or mould. It is a very popular activity at many pre schools and kids of all ages love it, so why not try it at home. It’s cheap and easy to do but it can be a bit messy, so be prepared.

This is an activity that needs to be worked on a little each day. It cannot be finished all in one afternoon so talk to your child about it as a project. It helps encourage them to plan for things as well as give them something fun to look forward to each day.

Things you will need:

  • Strips of newspaper (approx. 2cm x 10cm)
  • Paste
  • A plastic bowl or small shallow bucket
  • Something to use as a mould
  • Paints, brushes and stickers to decorate the finished item

Optional Extras

  • Strips of plain white paper
  • Strips of tissue paper
  • Clear acrylic varnish to seal the finished item
  • Balloons
  • Vaseline
  • A brush to apply the glue; but most kids prefer to use their hands.

What to do:Papier Mache with kids

  1. Make or buy some wallpaper paste and place it in the bowl or bucket. The recipe for making paste is below or you can simply buy some wallpaper paste from any paint or paper store.
  2. Select an item to use as a mould. You can use an existing bowl, a blown up balloon, or a plastic container with an interesting shape.
  3. Take one strip of newspaper at a time and immerse it in the glue. Stick it onto the mould and smooth over the surface. Repeat this over and over again with more newspaper in lots of different directions. Help you child cover the mould as evenly as they can.
  4. When the mould is completely covered leave it aside to dry.
  5. Once dry apply another 2-3 layers of newspaper allowing the mould to dry between layers.
  6. Optional – Once the mould is dry you can help your child add a layer of white paper so the object is easy to paint, even in light colours.
  7. Optional – At this point you can add a layer of coloured tissue paper to decorate your object instead of painting it at the end. This also helps give the piece a smooth finish.
  8. Once it is completely dry remove the mould if you need to.
  9. Paint or decorate your creation.
  10. Optional – Seal the finished piece with an acrylic sealer to protect it from scratches and marks.

Balloon moulds

Balloons make great moulds if your child would like to make a bowl, a jar or jug or a musical item such as a maraca. If you plan to use a balloon then set it up as follows and then keep going with the general papier mache instructions above.

  1. Blow up a balloon and spread some Vaseline over the area you plan to glue over.
  2. Brush or apply some glue over the Vaseline and add the first layer of newspaper.
  3. Apply paper layers as described above.
  4. Once dry remove the balloon. You may need to puncture and deflate it first.

To make your own glue you will need:

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of white PVA or craft glue
  • A small bowl for mixing such as an old ice cream container
  • A wooden spoon
  1. Place the flour in the mixing bowl.
  2. Slowly add the water and smooth out any lumps.
  3. Add the PVA glue and mix really well.
    If the paste is too thick add some water to thin it down a little.

Our Handy Hints

  1. Use our disposable Change Mats as a craft mat, they’re absorbant and will catch the extra glue if it drips.
  2. Keep a tub of Wipes in easy reach, for those very sticky paws.- The Huggies Team