Earth Day Activity: Recycling Paper
April 23, 2013
We did it! We made our own handmade paper. Not the ideal kind for letters or doing your homework on, but it turned out to be a pretty cool experiment. The end result resembled that same soft cardboard paper that eggs come in at the grocery stores. It was almost identical to that. In fact, we probably could have pressed it into a shape at some point in the drying stage and it would have stayed in that shape. Hmmmm…..that actually sounds like a good idea! I wish I would have thought of that sooner. Well, nonetheless this was a great Earth Day Activity for young children to learn how paper is recycled, which is what this whole project was about. As for our tree of choice to plant in honor of Earth Day…..
We chose an apricot tree! It’s a cute little four-foot tall tree, and I wish that I had some pictures to share of us planting our tree, but two out of four in this household decided they want to keep the tree in our patio. Well, more like two out of three since our toddler has no say in where the tree goes. Originally we were going to plant it in Nana’s backyard (since we don’t have one), but the little Miss fell in love with it, named it, gave it hugs, checks on it every day, and doesn’t want to part with it now. So, now I need to get it a bigger pot, find the best spot for it, and pray we get into a house with a yard by the end of this year so we can give it a proper home. Wish me luck and a nurturing green thumb!The paper, on the other hand, was a huge success!
We let it sit there for 24 hours.
The next day we blended the soggy paper with our handy dandy hand blender without taking any water out.
Hand blenders are AWESOME by the way!!
Here’s where the fun REALLY got started! This paper making project was so much more fun than I anticipated because of the sensory element in this part of the process.
They squished, poured, scooped, squeezed, dropped, and did it all over again. They had such a blast! I didn’t even care about whether or not the paper would come out anymore. Just seeing how much enjoyment they got out of this whole project was a reward in itself.
But, natural instincts took over and what I thought was going to be a lost cause, turned out to be a child-centered project gone right. I handed them the materials and they genuinely explored on their own terms. It was beautiful.
Then I thought the excess amount of water would be too much, but it was fine.
In fact, it helped to have it more moist than dry when spreading and shaping the paper, so don’t worry about that. As long as you can manage it with your fingers and it isn’t crumbling up or dripping excessively, don’t worry about wringing out all the water beforehand. Pressing the paper when you’re all done will take care of the excess water.
It took another day and a half to dry even with the warm weather. The amount of time it took was worth the wait though because it showed my 5-year-old how much time goes into making recycled paper. I’m not sure what we’ll do with it yet, but I do know we’ll be molding the paper next time – maybe something for Mother’s day? What shapes would you make?