Your young artist or scientist will have a blast engineering original homemade paper creations. To do this simple project, you and your child will recycle paper scraps, using them to create colorful handmade paper. Paper is an ancient and essential part of our lives, and this project can be used as a doorway into art exploration, as well as a look at the history of how paper was made and used.
What You'll Need
- Several sheets of scrap paper (printer paper, white construction paper, etc.)
- Food coloring
- Old screen window
- Rimmed baking trays (cookie sheets)
- Cookie cutters or canning jar lids
- One large bowl and several smaller ones.
Safety Tips and Hints: Adult supervision is required while using blenders and paper shredders.
What To Do
Step 1: Ask your artist to cut scrap paper into lots of tiny pieces or help her shred it in a mechanical paper shredder.
Step 2: Let your child put the paper in a bowl and cover it with water. Soak it for 2 hours or overnight.
Step 3: Have your child add the soaked paper to the blender. Pour in a little water from the bowl, close the lid, and mix it into a smooth, pulpy texture. You may need to add more water as you blend.
Step 4: Let your young inventor divide the paper into small batches in several bowls. Ask her to get creative and add food coloring, colorful paper scraps, flower petals, or other decorative material to each batch of paper.
Step 5: Place a rimmed baking sheet under the window screen to catch any liquid. Arrange cookie cutters onto screen, and have your child press the pulp into them, or leave enough room to make one big piece of paper directly on the screen.
Step 6: Ask your young artist to flatten the paper with her fingers to squeeze out excess water.
Step 7: Let the paper dry and help your child carefully peel it off of the screen.
- Punch holes in the paper and tie with ribbons or string to create hanging ornaments.
- Use different colored paper pulp to create a scene, still life, or portrait within the paper itself as you form it on the screen.
- Let your child make a three-dimensional paper sculpture by molding the wet paper pulp over bent screen or wire.
The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Behind the Fun
Paper is made from fibers that have been blended up and re-formed into flat sheets. It was first invented in China, almost two thousand years ago. Before that, pressed and dried plants, like papyrus, animal skins, bone, bamboo, and even silk were used to write on.
Paper can be made into art by sculpting, folding, cutting it into intricate designs, or tearing and rearranging it. Engineers who work on paper technology combine math, science, and design to create better ways to make, manufacture, and use paper products.
You can find more experiments like this one at kitchenpantryscientist.com, and in my books Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books), Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books), and my upcoming book STEAM Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Projects Exploring Science, Technology, Art and Math (Quarry Books, summer 2018).