Anyone reading my posts will understand by now that I am really into sustainable practices in early childhood settings.
Let me ask you a question, on average how much paper do you throw away every week?
If you are considering this and think it is too much, let me offer you an alternative. Making your own recycled paper.
Young children are very capable of understanding recycling practices, and great at learning new processes, so why not turn that waste into a brand new resource, and have some fun learning experiences at the same time.
You could purchase a small paper making kit to begin with if you wanted to, as it contains everything you need to get started. These can be found in most book stores or online.
Other wise you will need:
- two or three plastic watertight bins big enough to hold an A4 sized frame and at least three inches deep
- a wide clear bench or table to set these up on
- A fine mesh wooden frame, the size you want your paper to be and a slightly smaller one with larger mesh
- A kitchen sponge
- Some clear plastic transfer sheets, like the old overhead projector ones or laminated will also be alright (these will be used over and over so there is no waste)
- Old paper and/or newspaper
- A drying rack
- Tear your paper into small strips as you would for paper mache and fill one of the bins/containers
- Fill with water and let the paper soak in it for a while until it starts getting a bit mushy
- Break it up a bit more with your hands and add more water if necessary
- Once it starts to resemble a pulpy texture, use a whisk to break it down some more
- It should start to look like the consistency of porridge
- Use your mesh frame and place it into the pulp on an angle while you scoop some of the pulp onto the mesh
- Hold it level above the water and press out the excess liquid, leaving behind a fine pulp
- Remove from bin and place over transfer paper/plastic
- Lift frame off, leaving the mesh, and sponge out excess liquid
- Remove mesh and place your paper (leaving it on the transfer paper) on drying rack
- Once it is dry, it just peels right of the transfer paper and you can trim it to the size you want
Your first few attempts may not turn out perfect but that is fine. Keep practicing and you will be able to produce beautiful paper in no time at all.
When working with children, it is a good idea to have a paper making station set up and to be able to have a visual instruction booklet or posters up in the are they are working for them to refer to. This has worked for me and after some time I have seen three year olds master this alone.
If you would like to try some variations to your paper there are a few things that you can add to your pulp or in the final drying process, depending on what you are choosing to add.
Small flowers and leaves can be pressed into the paper while it is still wet and look quite beautiful, with that extra natural touch.
Dye and essential oils added into the pulp will give some colour and scent to your finished product as well.
Using other fibrous materials to make your paper could also be an option, but I would recommend that you master the process first.
I have used cardboard, which is the same process and flax which is a longer process given that it is a plant material, but makes the most amazing paper.
The obvious benefit of this is recycling waste and producing new resources from it. By walking children through the process and teaching them the importance of this aspect and the reasons behind it, we are sowing the seed for our future generation to consider the environment from an early age.
Children develop an understanding of how things work and that there are processes in the development of resources of any kind. They learn that there is an order to follow in sequences.
By working with different materials, both natural and recycled, children learn more about the science behind the process. What happens to paper when it is wet? Consistency and texture.
Children are able to experiment and be creative. They will waste less as they have had to do the work to produce the resource themselves, they understand the value!
You should now have some idea of how to create your own paper and I hope that you enjoy it.
Put some creative flair into it and have fun teaching your little ones.
Maybe you could make envelopes and other paper crafts from your creations. I would love to hear how you get on and what kind of experiences you have. Drop me a line and share your story.
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Founder and CEO of The Treasure Baskets