Here's an activity in which your child's imagination can truly run wild -- conjuring up a menagerie of one-of-a-kind critters from paper, paste, and paint.
Of all the Papier-Mâché recipes we've tested, we like this one best. It creates a smooth, light paste that's easy to work with.
What You Need:
4 Cups Water
1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar
Bring 2 cups of the water to a boil in a saucepan. Meanwhile, combine the flour and 2 cups of cold water in a bowl. Stir the paste into the pan of boiling water and bring the mixture back to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar. Let the mixture cool (it will thicken as it does), and it's ready to use.
Prepare the Papier-mâché paste. While it cools, shape your animals. For each creature, crumple 2 or 3 sheets of newspaper into balls and tape them together to create a torso. Attach more crumpled newspaper to shape a neck, a head, a tail, horns, and other rounded body parts. For ears, cut shapes out of cardboard, then wrap them in newspaper and tape; if you want to add antlers, attach a pair of forked sticks.
For legs, loosely tape on cardboard tubes. Then stand up your animal and adjust them, if needed (to make sure the creature is not wobbly), and tape them securely.
Now it's time to apply the papier-mâché. Tear the newsprint into strips that measure about 1 1/2 by 5 inches. Individually dip the strips into the paste, remove any excess paste by running the paper through your fingers, then stick the strips onto the animal. Continue until the entire surface is covered. Apply 2 more layers of strips and allow the papier-mâché to thoroughly dry (it may take overnight). Once it has, your child can paint her creature any way she likes -- the more whimsically, the better.