The idea for this messy hands-on play came from Parents magazine, although I had to adapt the activity slightly based on materials in our house. Still, it filled a morning of play for Veronika in the best, messiest way!
To start, Veronika helped tear up sheets of colored construction paper. Even better was pouring water from the watering can over the pieces until covered. Let soak for at least a few hours.
We headed out for a few activities, then came home to check on the paper. Nice and soggy! We transferred it to a blender, along with a little extra water. Blend until you have a thick paste. I didn’t measure the water, so just eyeball this until it seems right; you don’t want the mixture to be soupy, but you also don’t want it to seem too dry.
Transfer back to a bowl and stir in a packet of flower seeds, then head outside! Here’s where I needed to improvise; ideally, I would have set out the paper mush on an old window screen (or in a pinch, even a nylon stocking stretched over a hanger frame. Having neither, we just worked on a piece of cardboard, which I hoped would absorb the excess water as our paper dried.
I set out cookie cutters to press the paper pulp into, and Veronika briefly scooped some of the mush into them. But she was much too interested in this goopy mixture for it to stay in the cookie cutters for long! She loved scooping the mixture in and out of the bucket. At first she was hesitant to get her hands in it, but I demonstrated that you could pick up handfuls, squeeze it, and yet still have remarkably clean hands.
“I did it with my hands!” she said, and that’s exactly what she did for the next half hour. She picked up the paper pulp, squihsed it, filled the bucket, dumped it, and began all over again.
Luckily, I did manage to salvage two cookie cutter shapes: one star and one circle, and left these to dry in the sun. After about 5 hours, we checked on the shapes. They weren’t completely dry, but had set enough that we could remove the cookie cutters and then finish the drying process inside.
Veronika marveled at the texture as she touched the paper she had made!
Even better, we plan to actually plant these later in the summer, and see if the flowers grow. Stay tuned!