Papier-Mâché Pencil Pot Activity

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Updated on Jun 19, 2014

Take recycling to new heights. Papier-maché is French for "chewed-up paper"—and that's kind of what it looks like! In this activity, kids reconstruct old newspaper using a mold and wallpaper paste to partake in this centuries-old practice. This Earth-friendly crafting technique will result in a functional pencil holder that's loads of fun to make.

What You Need:

  • Old newspapers, torn or cut roughly into 1/2-1" strips
  • Old glass to use as a mold
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Large paintbrush for applying wallpaper paste
  • Scissors
  • Tempera paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Colored tissue paper (optional)
  • PVA varnish (optional, found at your local craft store)

What You Do:

  1. Have your child turn the glass upside down and cover the bottom and sides of the of it with petroleum jelly. It should be approximately 5 inches deep.
  2. Ask your child to stick a layer of newspaper to the glass (the newspaper should stick to the Vaseline).
  3. Have your child paint a thick layer of wallpaper paste over the newspaper and then stick another layer of newspaper onto the wallpaper paste layer.
  4. Ask your child to continue adding layers of paste and newspaper until she has at least 8 layers.
  5. Leave the papier maché on the inverted glass mold to dry for 2 days in a warm place.
  6. When completely dry, help your child ease the papier maché pot off the glass.
  7. Your child can trim the top edge of the pot with a pair of scissors so that it is level.
  8. Encourage your child to paint the finished pencil pot with her desired colors of tempera paint.
  9. When the paint is dry, the pot is ready to use!

If your child doesn't want to paint the pot, she can add three layers of colored tissue paper interleaved with wallpaper paste on top of the newspaper layers instead. This will give it a bright and colorful look sans paint.

For an extra shiny finish, your child can glaze the pencil pot with a layer of PVA varnish once the paint is dry.

Shaheen Bilgrami has been writing and editing children's books for over twelve years. Her books have been published all over the world.