Papier-mâché is a classic kindergarten craft. It’s messy, fun, and enables the kids to use their hands to create something special. Let the kids really do this one on their own - everything from tearing the newspaper, to mixing the homemade paste, to blowing the balloons. In the process, they’ll get great use of their fine motor skills, and feel a great sense of accomplishment having completed each step themselves.
Have the kids tear the newspaper into approx. four inch long strips. This is just a guideline, as any strip will do, but the smaller in size, the better.
Try to find the long thin balloons that have the indentations in them. Stretch them out a few times and blow them up so they aren’t completely full. They should resemble a caterpillar in their shape, lumpy and long. Again, you’re not striving for perfection! Caterpillars come in different shapes and sizes, so let the kids practice blowing up balloons (this can be tricky for some) and have fun with the shapes.
Let the kids mix together the flour and water until it becomes a glue-like substance. You can always buy "modge podge" (already made glue) at a craft store, but kids love making their own version. It should be fairly watery, so that it drips off a spoon.
With their balloon in front of them, tell the kids to start dipping strips! Take one strip of newspaper and fully coat it in the glue. Using their fingers, have the children squeeze off any excess glue on their newspaper strip before applying it to the balloon.
After they have fully covered the balloon with newspaper strips, you’ll need to let this first layer dry completely for a day or two and then repeat again, covering the whole balloon a second time.
After it is completely dry, let the kids go wild with painting their caterpillars. For added fun, try gluing on googly eyes, sequins, glitter, etc. For creepier crawlers, you can even add fake furry eyebrows!
Lisa M. Cope is a freelance writer who focuses on parenting and child development issues, among many others. She is the mother of two boys, ages five and two.