Paper Mache is one of those classic childhood crafts-meets-sensory-activities, but it often goes overlooked in our Pinterest-obsessed field. Today, we’re returning back to basics with one of my girl’s favorite crafts to date, our Mermaid Treasure Bowls, a simple paper mache craft.
Mermaid Paper Mache Bowls
I wasn’t originally intending on these being mermaid treasure bowls, but with a mermaid-obsessed daughter I should have been prepared!
Your children could decorate their paper mâché bowls however they’d like –
How to Make Paper Mâché Bowls
First, prepare yourself for a bit of mess.
Paper mâché is not for the faint of heart – and you’ll want to clean the mess up shortly after the kids are done before any of the flour glue hardens, making it much harder to clean. I personally believe that the benefits of crafting and sensory play is worth whatever mess occurs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t engage in some deep breathing throughout the craft!
To make paper mâché, mix equal parts flour and water to make a cheap & easy homemade glue.
Now grab all of those annoying flyers that always end up on your doorstep despite any signs or requests to the contrary – they are finally going to come in handy! Cut them all into 2″ wide strips.
Blow up some party balloons and get the children into smocks or messy craft clothes.
Have the children dip the strips of newspaper into the flour-water glue and cover their individual balloons with them. (I find it easiest to set the balloons in small, plastic bowls so they stay in place.)
The bowls will take a few hours to dry – plan to let them dry overnight as some kids can be overzealous in their paste application. (Try to blot off any big clumps to help the process along and achieve a smooth final product.)
When the paper is dry and hard, pop the balloons and trim the edges to make an even bowl.
Allow the children to paint their bowls however they’d like – and plan for another overnight drying period.
The next day, fill a sectioned tray or several small bowls with special treasures – since we did a mermaid-themed bowl, we used sugar starfish, seashells, mermaid sequins, buttons, and jewels.
Provide glue and smocks.
Encourage the children to embellish their bowls however they’d like! Some of my children wanted to decorate the inside of the bowls, so the mermaid treasure was always hidden on the bottom!
Because we were using a school glue, I found that the seashells would not stick to the outside of the paper mâché bowls, so I enlisted some clamps from our DIY Fort Kit to help keep them in place until the glue dried.
The girls were so delicate and purposeful in how they embellished their paper mâché bowls, and there was a lot of natural fine motor practice happening!
Again, we had to let the glue dry overnight but the final products were stunning! These bowls are stiff and sturdy – good for holding necklaces or other (non-edible) treasures, but should be used decoratively and not in active play.
Have you done paper mâché with your kids? Do you have any little mermaids who would love this easy process paper mache craft?