This was a huge project (as most paper mache projects are), and it took f o r e v e r because of all our snow days! that being said, the kids loved how they turned out. If they’re proud of the finished project, that’s what matters, right?
Let’s get down to business:
First I gave each student two panels of cardboard that I cut from a box. They also used a paper cup, a ruler, a pencil, and a marker. They measured the widest part of the cup (the rim), and it was 3″. Then, they drew their first name initial to the size of the cardboard. With a ruler, they made the letter block-styled, keeping the width at least three inches. Once they had the letter drawn out, I had them run the cup all through the letter just to make sure. Finally, they used the marker to trace the line, and then cut it out.
For the next step, they were instructed to trace the letter onto the second cardboard panel and cut it out. Then, I gave them a stack of cups and they glued them to the surface of the one of the letters, alternating the cups going up and down. When they finished, they put glue (tricky!) on the tops of the cups, and laid the other letter on top. It’s a good idea to lay something heavy on them, to keep the glue in contact with the cardboard until it dries.
The third step was to paper mache the dried letters. This was described as fun, messy, gross, warm, and cold (depending on how fresh the paste was). The best way I know how to make paste is to put all-purpose flour in a bowl, add some very hot water, and using an electric mixer, stir and keep adding water until you get the consistency of pancake batter. Once it’s done, mix in about a tablespoon of bleach. This way, if you need to keep it for the next day, it won’t mold. I told the kids to criss-cross their strips of paper to build strength.
Once the letters were covered with paper mache, and they were good and dried, the kids added primer. Now, I don’t like to buy primer paint, because I have so many kids, and it’s friggin’ expensive, so I make my own by mixing 1 part white acrylic paint to 1 part white glue.
At last the letters were ready to paint! The students used acrylic, and if you’ve never tried the cheap paints vs. the good ones (more expensive), then you haven’t lived… You totally get what you pay for!
Here are the finished letters! Some students chose to paint it a solid color, and some chose to paint a pattern or a picture. They all turned out great!