My kids constantly draw, which I love, but we end up with a lot of paper that eventually gets recycled. Today, we decided to reuse some of their old sketch paper and other scrap paper and create some homemade paper! We are trying to do more recycled crafts especially with paper and this one was perfect.
If you are looking for a fun and easy activity to do at home, this is always a favourite in our house. It is a great sensory activity and a chance to show kids a basic understanding of how paper can be recycled and turned into something new.
Making recycled paper is really easy and turned out even better then I expected. You can use materials from around you house to create the paper so the craft shouldn’t be expensive to make.
- Cheese Cloth (Optional)
- Eye Droppers (Optional)
- Rolling Pin
- Wax Paper
Some paper has dyes in it so it is best to not use a blender used for food. If you don’t have a blender to use, you can simply let the mixture sit longer and use your hands to break the paper apart.
How to Make Recycled Paper
Take your collection of paper ready to be recycled and start by ripping it up. If you are using a blender, it does not need to be ripped up really small. However, if you are not using a blender, the smaller you can rip the pages, the better.
We had some old pages of coloured scrap paper that were pretty ripped up, so we decided to throw them in too.
After ripping and cutting up the paper we then added it to the blender with lots of warm water.
We used enough water so that the paper easily moved around the blender. Any excess water will just be drained off in the next step so make sure to add enough.
If you are not using a blender, let the paper soak in the water until it starts to break down.
Once mixed, the water will break apart the paper and create paper pulp.
Because of the coloured paper, our first batch ended up creating a brownish pulp which my kids did not love. You can pour the excess water out and add clean water and put it through the blender again.
Each time you change the water, the dyes from the paper are going to continue to come out. Keep rinsing until the paper pulp is white.
If you don’t want to change the water, you can simply use white paper to start and not add coloured paper.
After taking it out of the blender we put it in the cheese cloth to drain a lot of the water.
For our second batch we didn’t end up using the cloth because my kids just wanted to do it by hand. So don’t worry if you don’t have cheese cloth – it works just as well without it.
Squeeze a lot of the water out. You don’t want your paper pulp to be dripping. However, you still want the paper a bit wet.
Next put the pulp onto waxed paper and flatten it out. If you have a rolling pin, it works well. Then covered it with another sheet of wax paper and roll out the paper pulp into one flat sheet.
You want the sheet to be fairly thin, but not too thin or it will rip. When rolling, make sure that there are no holes in the rolled out paper pulp.
If you are happy with your paper, you can leave it at this point to dry.
The next part is why I love doing arts and recycled crafts with kids. I had planned to leave the paper plain and then colour or decorate it after it dried. My kids had other, better, ideas.
They wanted to add colour to the paper before it dried. So we got out some food colouring and some pipettes. They designed their paper with the various colours.
My kids decided to even add beads to their paper, which did not stick. However, they left marks on the paper once they were dry which were very pretty. You could use something to leave prints, or a boarder around your paper.
If you want all of your paper to be a specific colour, you can add a few drops of food colouring to the pulp and mix it before you roll it out.
Once my kids had added some colour to their paper pulp, we then set our papers to dry. It was a sunny and warm day, so we set the paper pulp outside. You can just leave it out inside over night.
Depending how much water you left in your pulp, your paper will likely dry over night.
Once it is dry, you can peal your paper off of the wax paper and you have new paper ready to use!
I love making recycled paper because it, in a very simple way, shows my kids a bit about how recycling works and how their old pieces of art can be turned into something else that they can use.
We had a lot of fun creating our recycled crafts and they turned out so well!
Once dry, you can cut the paper into any shape you like and use it like regular paper. The paper does have a different texture to it because the pulp is a bit thicker and chunkier than regular paper, but it gives it a unique look.
The sheets that my kids added colour with the eye droppers turned out really interesting as well. The colour from the droppers soaked into the paper and coloured all around where they had added the drops.
I personally love my kids rainbow paper! They later used it for a truly homemade birthday card for a friend. We will definitely be doing more recycled crafts this summer!
More Hands-On Teaching Ideas and Activities
If you are looking for more hands-on activities to do with kids, below is a collection of some of my favourite, and most popular, learning activities.