Learning how to make paper mache is a traditional kids craft with newspaper that we love even for the youngest crafters. This easy recipe for paper mache has only 2 ingredients and is perfect to do with kids of all ages with a pile of old paper pieces!
How to Make Paper Mache with Kids
We are starting with the simplest paper mache craft, a paper mache bowl, but this easy technique will inspire you to make more paper mache crafts!
Papier Mache started as a French term meaning chewed paper referring to the mixture of paper pulp and paste that will harden when dried.
Making paper mache was the first craft I ever remember doing. I remember the joy of taking strips of newspaper with some water and flour and transforming those simple ingredients into a paper mache bowl or making paper mache balls from balloons covered with layers of paper mache, waiting for them to dry and popping the balloon inside.
Paper mache just seems like magic!
Related: 20+ Easy Crafts Kids Can Make With Only 2-3 Supplies
Paper Mache Recipe
For every paper mache craft or paper mache project, you will need paper mache paste and old newspaper strips.
Supplies Needed to Make Paper Mache Paste
- 1 Part Water
- 1 Part Flour
Directions to Make Paper Mache Paste
- In a medium bowl, add 1 part water to 1 part flour
- Mix thoroughly to combine flour and water into a thick paste about the consistency of wallpaper paste
How to make a paper mache bowl Craft
Step 1 – Select a Small Bowl as a Paper Mache Template
Start with a small bowl – plastic is best – to use as a paper mache bowl template for your newspaper craft. If you don’t have a plastic one, you can use a metal or ceramic bowl, just slide a layer of plastic wrap like Saran wrap over it first.
It is easiest to place the bowl upside down to use the bottom side as the template.
Step 2 – Tear Old Newspaper into Strips
Prepare a stack of old newspaper for the paper mache craft by tearing the newspaper into strips. You can also use scissors or a paper cutter to cut strips.
Step 3 – Mix Up Your Paper Mache Paste
Grab your pre-made paper mache paste or mix of paper mache paste recipe by combining 1:1 flour and water.
Step 3 – Dip & Cover with Paper Mache
Making paper mache is messy so cover your work area with additional newspapers or a plastic covering.
Dip a strip of newspaper into the paste, slide through the paper mache paste and gently run fingers over the gooey newspaper strips to remove excess paper mache paste. Lay the strips of paper onto the bottom of the bowl template as the first layer of paper mache.
Keep adding strips covering the entire bowl template smoothing as you go to push out any air bubbles our of the paper mache mixture.
Tip: You can place your paper mache paste into a large bowl and use the edge of the top of the bowl to help remove the excess flour mixture paste.
Step 4 – Layer Paper Mache Strips
Continue adding layers – second layer, third layer, fourth layer…the more the better. We made about 5 layers so that the bowl would be sturdy and fully covered.
Step 4 – Dry
Leave the paper mache bowl to to dry overnight. Drying times will vary based on the size of your project, your temperature and humidity level.
Step 5 – Remove Craft Template
After the paper mache is dry, gently press out the bowl. If you have a plastic bowl, just give it a bit of a squeeze and it will pop out. If you covered another type of bowl, pull on the plastic wrap to dislodge.
Step 6 – Paint and Decorate Your Paper Mache Bowl
Once our paper mache creation dried over night and popped off the plastic form, we opened up our craft supplies and used what we could find.
- We painted our paper mache bowl white with white acrylic paint and a paint brush and applied blue tissue paper strips for color.
- Our white acrylic paint that took several coats to cover the newsprint type. The blue tissue paper strips were applied to the wet paint and were a great way to add some color to the bottom of the bowl.
Finished Paper Mache Craft for Kids
Our paper mache bowl turned out so pretty! The bowl is the perfect size to hold some little treasures or just to keep collect some coins.
Easy Paper Mache Bowl Project for Kids
My 4.5 yr old son Jack loves to create. He draws everyday, paints and builds models. I knew he would love paper mache; gooey paste, sculpting, what’s not to love?
This was our first time working with paper mache together and it was oh so much fun. Instead of using a balloon, we used a bowl because it is really easy:
- A bowl is nice and stable for small hands who are just beginning at paper mache coordination.
- Everything I am about to describe as to how to do paper mache with kids can be modified for a more complex paper mache idea.
My son, Jack loved this paper mache craft so much, we’ll definitely be making more paper mache fun projects soon.
Maybe next time we’ll make an animal mask just like I used to when I was a child. Or maybe we will cover a beach ball…one good idea after another!
- Strips of newspaper
- 1 cup Water
- 1 cup Flour
- Shallow pan to put the paper mache paste in for dipping the paper strips.
- For beginners: small plastic bowl, if you don't have a suitable plastic bowl, line the outside of a metal or ceramic bowl with plastic wrap first.
- For more advanced crafters: balloon to cover & pop once craft has dried overnight.
- Mix up the Paper Mache Paste by adding equal parts of flour and water.
- Put paper mache paste in a shallow pan.
- One at a time, drag and dip a paper strip in the paper mache paste completely covering the paper strip with the concoction.
- While the strip is still over the shallow pan, gently run fingers over the paper strip to remove excess paste with the goal of it not being "drippy".
- Place the paper strip over the upside-down bowl covering it as smoothly as possible. Keep adding strips until the entire bowl surface is covered.
- Make at least 5 layers of paper mache strips over the surface.
- Let the bowl dry overnight.
- Gently squeeze the plastic bowl allowing the paper mache shell to dislodge.
- Paint and decorate.
More Paper Mache Ideas from Kids Activities Blog
- Make a beautiful paper mache craft butterfly with these simple instructions.
- Use paper mache on plastic bottle for this rainstick craft.
- Make a paper mache head…as in a moose head which is a really fun art project!
- Make a tissue paper suncatcher craft which is a similar technique as paper mache, just using traditional glue and tissue paper instead of flour, water and newspaper. Different ways to make a good idea!
- You gotta try these water bottle crafts!
Have you made easy paper mache projects with your kids like this paper mache bowl? How did it go?