This was no easy project. I only do art with the kids on Fridays so this one took us three weeks. The kids rose to the challenge and created amazing paper mache robots. We also had a fair amount of parents helping (especially on paper mache day). Here is how we did it.
- We asked parents to send in boxes about the size of mac and cheese boxes or granola bar boxes as well as lids to milk, water, juice, etc… drink caps.
- We used our recylcables and painters tape or gaffers tape to tape the lids and cut up paper or cardboard to our boxes. They were thinking about eyes and noses and mouths and how they wanted the faces to look. We also added pipe cleaners to this step.
- The next week we did the paper mache. I ended up making batches of goo with flour and water. One part flour to two parts water. I think I ended up using a whole 5lb bag of flour. We had parents send in newspaper cut into strips. Small strips were best with the detail the kids had to achieve in their designs
- We let those dry for a week (no photos because I was busy that day) and the last step was paint. We used acrylic paints. I told them all to start with painting their whole robot one color (you know how kids like to just paint their favorite parts). In hindsight, I would only do that if we had a chance to let them fully dry and then paint the details. So they painted the whole thing one color and then added their colors for eyes and mouths, etc. The colors got a little mushy for some of them with the wet base coat.
The surprising things were that some of the kids were thoroughly grossed out by having their hands in the flour/water goo. It took them awhile to get used to the idea of having constantly gooey hands. I had a towel for each kid to wipe their hands on while they worked. The paper mache process was the hardest and I was grateful for all the parents helping. The kids really liked this project overall and got a chance to use a new medium for them.
I think it’s important for kids to try all kinds of art so they can see what they really like and recognize the parts they don’t like that much and the parts that they do. Usually the furthest we make it in assessing things we participate in is IF we like it or not. That’s it. I think art projects are a great way to start thinking past did I or didn’t I like it.
I plan on talking to them more about their own personal process and let them verbalize on each project what they liked, thought was hard, thought was easy, thought was torture, thoroughly enjoyed etc. Kids need a chance to talk and be acknowledged not just about how their day was (which always gets answered with “great” of “fine”) but about how they experience things. This gets them thinking about who they are in detail. I think these art projects are a perfect place to start exploring their preferences and I am looking forward to talking to them more about each of them than just doing projects.