|Age: 0 to 8+||Time: 1 hour+|
|Materials: Paper to recycle, 3 or 5 gallon bucket, bowls or buckets for kids, newspaper, absorbent cloth, water source, window screen, scissors, old frame (optional), duct tape (optional), rolling pin|
|Skills: Creativity, Naturalist, Fine Motor, Sensory|
If your home is anything like ours, your kids are constantly creating. You fully support the process, but reach a familiar yet irksome catch-22: either callously dispose of their creations while they sleep, or drown in a sea of kid artwork. It was this dilemma, combined with our 5-year-old's self-appointment as recycling officer (thank you, preschool), that sparked the idea of making paper. Our solution: guide young artists to pick a few works to display, then take the rest outside and develop a nature-themed line of hand-made paper.
The act of paper-making is a phenomenal sensory experience and a chance for boundless, yet productive mess-making. Focus the effort on curating additional ingredients from nature like leaves, flower petals and even small twigs, and this project becomes even more memorable, not to mention the results can be beautiful. Before embarking on this project, our kids’ frame of reference for recycling never made it beyond the bin. This was our chance to experience the cycle in recycle. Every bit of material we used was reused or repurposed. Finally, this was a lesson in letting go of the trappings of stuff and the attachment to objects—a powerful life lesson to people of any age!
By doing the making outside, we can not only enjoy the mess, but also incorporate plant materials, turning paper-making into its own art form. Both comfort with messy processes and experience with dappling in a wide variety of materials help kids become more creative people.
When kids participate in each step of turning old drawings into new paper, they experience recycling from beginning to end (or new beginning). This act of transforming materials offers a great way to practice the transforming schema, an important behavior pattern associated with early childhood development. There is really no better way to concretize both the process and the concept of recycling for kids, helping them to become good stewards of the planet.
Finally, the practice of letting go of old, treasured works of art can start to help kids to let go of a whole host of trappings that could, literally and figuratively, weigh them down in life. What a fun, reverent and beautiful way to plant the seed that we and our paper should keep reinventing ourselves.
We think all families should be learning outside. Try this activity with your child and begin to see the power in outdoor, play-based learning. Have fun!Email it to me