Be prepared to get messy! Paper Mache is a fun and tactile art experience for children. It can also be technically challenging and requires a lot of guidance and assistance from an adult.
There are a lot of great tutorials out on the web. Here is our version...
We've made balloon based paper mache projects in the past. This time we opted to build a newspaper armature. I showed the girls how to crumple the newspaper and wrap masking tape around to secure it. Lu (age 5.5) worked much more independently, while Em (age 3.5) needed help taping and direction in how to build her figure.
The girls chose characters from a book called, Go Away Dog to create. Lu is making the dog and Em is making the boy.
Both girls enjoyed mixing the flour and water paste. I just gradually poured in the warm water into the flour until we got the right consistency.
Here is where the adult needs to come into the picture. Depending on the age of your artist, you may need to add an additional layer and smooth out any bumps. Em actually did a great job on the front and back of her figure...she just neglected the sides. After the girls were cleaned up and off playing, I sat down and made sure the sides on Em's and the neck, armpits and ears on Lu's had enough coverage. Some of you may shout, "Interference!" I agree with you in theory but I also believe you want your child's project to be a success. It stinks having something fall apart after they have worked so hard on something. I see no harm in ensuring structural integrity as long as you don't change their design.
Let dry 24 -48 hours. Make sure it is thoroughly dried out before you start painting. This helps to prevent mold. Adding salt to your paste can also prevent mold. Flour-based Paper Mache paste is attractive to mice if you already have a problem with them (I learned that while student teaching in NYC.) If you plan on keeping your child's project for a prolonged time you may want to seal it.
Tomorrow, I will post the painted pieces.