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Papier-Mâché Characters

Second Grade Comprehension Activities: Papier-Mâché Characters

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Do you ever wonder what excites your child about that favorite character in a series or story? Here's a way to find out! Help your child to create an original character or a familiar favorite from a book or series he adores. Imagine the hours of craft and puppet show entertainment, not to mention creative play essential to your child's development!

What You Need:

  • 2 parts water
  • 1 part white glue
  • Plastic or glass mixing bowl
  • Newspaper or magazine strips
  • Balloons
  • Tempera paints
  • Paint brush
  • Masking tape
  • Yarn, buttons, rhinestones, fabric scraps, pipe cleaners, paper towel rolls, toilet rolls, empty juice box (optional: for added body parts and decoration once mold is dry)

What You Do:

  1. Ask your child to talk about some of his favorite characters from a story he's read, and tell him that you are going to help him create that character!
  2. Make a base shape for the character’s head. If the character is a person, balloons work best. If it is an animal or animated character that does not have a round shape for a head (animal or robot for example), consider other options like an old juice box or egg carton. Have your child help you add paper towel rolls, toilet rolls, or whatever else you find to form the body, as well as the arms and legs, and attach them with masking tape to create the form.
  3. Mix the glue and water in a bowl until the consistency is like a paste. Make sure it's more on the liquid side and glossy.
  4. Have your child help you dip newspaper/magazine strips in the paste, squeeze off the excess, and lay them over the form in layers, covering it completely. The flatter and smoother the strips are applied, the easier it will be to paint the details on later.
  5. Allow the form to air dry for several days until it has completely hardened.
  6. Now have your child decorate the character with paint and other items that you have available. Glue on colored tissue paper or scraps of old fabric to create clothes. Yarn works well for hair.
  7. Look at his creation. Are you amazed at how well your child can include specific details about his beloved character? Find out how far you can go with this concept by encouraging your child to make up a puppet show, interviewing the character as a news anchor, or telling stories about the character. You might be surprised just how much your child knows about reading comprehension, summarizing ideas, and telling a story!
Alicia Danyali, BS Elementary Education, taught primary-level students for four years at the International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The last four years of her teaching career, she taught at the Washington International School in Washington, D.C. She recently completed writing a series of children's picture books and is a mother of one young son.

Updated on Jan 22, 2014
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See more activities in: Second Grade, Comprehension
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