Get free weekly activities sent to your inbox. Sign up now.
- 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
- Have a conversation: Ask kids what they think we should do with their piles of artwork. “What if we took some of the pictures and recycled them to make new art?" Lay out the pictures and talk to them, explaining how exciting it would be to transform into something new.
- Make your frame: There are two different methods: Take a large, old picture frame and use a staple gun to attach some window screen to one side. This will become the paper-making/drying surface. Or, use a 7"x9" section of window screen and put duct tape around the edges. This new tool becomes the screen within a pan to catch pulp (a more traditional method with a more even result).
- Prep the pulp: First, be sure that you are not using paper with any kind of coating or sheen. Newspaper will turn everything gray. Rip the paper into small-ish pieces (about the size of a quarter) and place them in a bucket. If wee ones struggle with ripping, make small tears all around the edges of a paper for them. Given that head start, it’s much easier (and so satisfying) for them to rip. Once you have paper in the bucket, cover it with water and let it soak for about 30 minutes.
- Grind or mash pulp: Use a blender or an egg beater or mortar and pestle to turn the soaked paper into pulp.
- Hand mash and mix in nature treasures: This is the really fun part. Give everyone a bowl or bucket of pulp and welcome them to “really” mash and mix it up. Collect “flat” nature treasures with interesting colors and textures and add them to your pulp. This will make beautiful paper!
- Turn pulp to paper: Add water to the bowls of pulp. For small kids, simply lay out a frame on which to work. Kids can place and smooth around fistfuls of watery pulp on the frame to make paper. The other option is to pour watery pulp into a basin or pan. Place the bit of screen on the bottom of the pan and move it back and forth until a nice layer of pulp collects on the screen, making the new paper.
- Get the water out: Place layers of newspaper and absorbent cloth (towel, wool blanket, etc.) under and over your paper/screen. Using your flat hands, pat it until water comes out. Replace newspaper and cloth and use a rolling pin to get even more water out and press the paper.
- Wait: This is perhaps the hardest step of all. Place your screens of new paper in the sun and wait for them to really dry. Once they have, gently peel them from the screen.
- Make new art: The texture and lovely look of the paper makes it a nice medium for new projects. Use natural paint and potato prints to design on their paper, or glue the edge scraps to paper to make new pictures.
Why is this activity great for kids?
Try a Free Class
- Two class formats: try a free In-Person session (where and when available) or try Tinkergarten Anywhere, our on-demand product available anytime.
- In either format, a certified Tinkergarten Leader will teach a Tinkergarten lesson and inspire your kids to play.
- Sample the additional activities and resources families get each week to keep kids learning outside at home.
Become or Recommend a Leader
- Help us bring Tinkergarten to your community.
- Recommend people you think would make great Tinkergarten Leaders.
- Maybe that’s you!
- Earn a $100 gift card to Amazon if your nominee becomes a Leader!