Paper-maché Landscapes

paper-maché (“paper mash-ay“) comes from the french word papier-mâché, meaning ‘chewed-up paper’)

This continues to be a popular project. It doesn’t need much preparation and is easy enough for kids from around Grade 3 up.

You need a base of plywood or cardboard, lots of newspaper and glue. Flour and water is the simplest, although we used white pva wood glue and water. It’s harder to mix (about 4 parts water to 1 part glue) but it will be stronger.

Trees can be made out of white packing foam broken into lumps by hand, then stuck onto toothpicks and painted green. Buildings are easily made from thin card or cardboard. (Don’t try to make the roller-coaster; it was a nightmare!)

For the lighthouse, the battery holder was hidden in a space made from half a paper cup then covered over with paper while leaving the back open so the light can be turned on/off. (Don’t forget to put the wire up through the lighthouse and attach the bulb before you stick it all together.) Here is a picture of one in progress showing “waves” being painted, and the cavity for the battery holder visible in the foreground.

The 3 volt light and battery holder (with a built-in switch) in the picture below were found in a  local DIY shop for $32 (Taiwan dollars) or about US$1 total. The wires can be joined by twisting and sticky-taping or soldering. Soldering is best if you have a soldering iron. It’s more educational.

From these projects a kid learns several things, such as:

That he/she is capable of turning imagination into a reality,

Various modeling techniques,

An awareness of proportion (they will inevitably wind up making mistakes in proportion, such as a farm animal bigger than the house etc.)

Basic electric wiring principles,

That he/she can get very gooey, dirty hands and still survive.

You can also have fun creating stop-motion animations if you have a digital camera and computer handy. These ones below, each with less than 30 photos, give a kid a lot of insight into animation techniques, and such things as photography and lighting, frame rates and computer software. (These were done with software called “ffmpeg” on a Linux operating system.)

And this was my first attempt at adding sound…

Kids normally have a lot of fun with this, and if they discover a talent for it, it may be the beginning of a great career.

Here is another one done by Jay in summer 2012 (added July 19)

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