Monday, March 25, 2013

this weekend: paper mâché eggs and lots of play

Hurray for a weekend spent at home (finally)! This weekend we didn't go anywhere that was more than a 15 minute drive from our house. Saturday we enjoyed a surprise run-in with some friends at the mall and Ella got in some unexpected play time with her friend Tate in the (very crowded) play area.

Sunday we finally began a craft project that has been percolating in my mind for the last week: Paper Mâché Easter Eggs. I think paper mâché is a great craft activity for toddlers! It doesn't require any precision, you can't really make a mistake, it's completely non-toxic (which is good since I'm pretty sure Ella decided to taste it a few times), and after it dries, your child has something three-dimensional that they created with their own hands. Oh, and what toddler doesn't love getting their hands messy! The one item that all paper mâché does require is some sort of form work to adhere the paper to. The Easter eggs used small balloons, blown up until they resembled an egg shape as much as was possible. Here's how we did it.

supply list:
large plastic bowl
newspaper (or any paper you have lying around that would otherwise be thrown away)
small balloons
a peanut butter jar lid or plastic cup (to place your balloon on as you work)
cloth rags (handy to have nearby in case the little one decides to take an impromptu break)
acrylic paint

to make:

1_Place a vinyl tablecloth over your table and a splat mat on the floor beneath where your little one will be working. This made clean up a cinch.

2_Have your little one measure out about 1 cup of flour (no leveling required here) into a large bowl. Add about 1 cup of water, then let them whisk it all together to form a mixture that is only slightly thicker than a pancake batter.

3_Blow up your small balloons so that they resemble a large egg (no one said ostrich eggs were out for Easter). Meanwhile hand your little one a stack of newspaper and tell them to rip it up into small strips and/or pieces. (Ella looked at me quizzically until I showed her how to do it. I don't think she could believe I was actually encouraging her to rip something up.)

4_When all your materials are prepped, show them how to dip the paper into the mixture, drag it on the edge of the bowl to wipe off the excess, and drape it over their balloon. Don't worry if they aren't removing as much of the excess paste as you'd like. It will just take longer to dry. And try as much as you can to just let them do their thing, ignoring folds in the paper and places where the paper has gathered up (this was a challenge for me being the perfectionist that I am). It will all dry solid no matter how smooth it is and it will look fine. And most importantly, they will be very proud of their work!

5_When the balloons are fully covered with a layer of newspaper, find a place to hang them up to dry. When they were fully dried, I chose to put another layer of paper mâché on them, but I don't think it's necessary.  Using a pin, pop the balloons and pull them out through the hole that left to leave the knot exposed.  You can cover this hole with another layer of paper mâché.

6_When dry, paint to decorate!

Our eggs were still drying Sunday night after our second coat of paper so we'll decorate them later this week.

Happy Making!

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