Let’s Make Paper

Children will make paper from recyclable material.

Lesson Objective

Children will create paper from recyclable materials and observe that materials can be reused to create something new.


What You'll Need

  • Blender
  • Deep 9” x 13” disposable foil baking pans – 4
  • Piece of small-holed window screen 8” x 10”
  • Rolling pin
  • Liquid laundry starch – 1 bottle
  • Large slotted spoon
  • Junk mail or newspaper
  • Paper towels
  • Wax paper

What To Do

Note: The paper may take several days to dry completely.
  1. Have the children tear up the paper into small pieces (approximately 1 inch) and place them in the foil pans. Soak the pieces of paper in very warm water mixed with laundry starch (1 tablespoon of starch per cup of water) while you prepare the next step of the activity.
  2. Place the soaked paper in a blender with enough water and starch mixture to cover it completely. You may need to do this in several batches (if a blender is unavailable, see Lesson Tips).
  3. Blend the paper scraps and water until all large chunks are pulverized (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). The longer you blend the pulp, the smoother and more even your paper will be.
  4. Place several layers of paper towels on the table.
  5. Put the screen on top of the paper towels.
  6. Using the spoon, spread some pulp in an even layer over the surface of the screen.
  7. Use the rolling pin to press down hard on the pulp to squeeze out any excess water.
  8. Lift the screen off the paper towels and turn it over onto a piece of wax paper.
  9. Remove the screen and let the paper dry.
  10. When the paper is dry, gently peel it away from the wax paper and it will be ready to use.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me some ways that we use paper in the classroom.
  • What happens when you put paper in the blender?
  • How does the wet pulp feel? Can you describe how it looks and smells?
  • Look at the torn paper scraps that we used to make the paper. Look at the wet pulp from the blender. How are they different? How are they the same?

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • When the paper is complete, put some extra pieces in the writing center and encourage the children to use crayons, pencils, markers, and scissors with the paper.
  • This project is great for creating gifts. You can make the paper more festive or fancier by adding things such as food coloring, glitter, dried flowers, or sequins to the pulp before you spread it onto the screen.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Was each child able to recognize that they were recycling (creating a new product from a used product)?
  • Could children examine and discuss the paper when the project was done?


Did You Know?

When we recycle, we are turning used items or waste into new products. Paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass are frequently recycled materials. Sometimes the same product is produced, such as recycling used plastic soda bottles into new plastic bottles or old aluminum cans into new aluminum cans. We can also recycle used materials to create new products. Plastic bottles are recycled and become fiber filling for jackets and sleeping bags, carpeting, paintbrush bristles, and skateboards. Used office paper can be recycled into tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, and writing paper.

In the United States, paper is made from recycled paper, trees and other plants, and woodchips and scraps from sawmills. A paper product can be recycled 5–7 times before the fibers are too weak to use again. More than 5,000 products are made from recycled paper. Some of those products include masking tape, paper money, globes, bandages, coffee filters, and hospital gowns.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • paper – a thin material often used to write on or to wrap things in.
  • blend – to mix ingredients so well that you cannot see the separate pieces.
  • texture – the way a surface feels or looks.
  • pulp – a soft, squishy, wet portion of a material.
  • squeeze – when you push hard on something or press something together, you are squeezing it.
  • recycle – to put used things through a process that allows them to be used again.

Lesson Tips

  • If a blender is unavailable, use several egg beaters and deep bowls. Allow the children to beat the mixture until the pulp is the consistency of very light gravy.
  • Newspaper can be very messy to work with. The ink will get all over everyone’s hands; wear smocks to protect clothing.
  • The paper you choose for this project will control the feel and the look of your handmade paper. Newspaper, regular drawing paper, and printer paper will create a smoother finish. Magazine pages, gift wrap, and junk mail will chop up less smoothly and create paper with more “texture.”
  • Papermaking can be rough on a blender and dull the blade quickly.


  • Where Does Paper Come From? by C. Vance Cast
  • Recycle by Gail Gibbons
  • Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel
  • Why Should I Recycle? by Jen Green
  • The Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Nuria Roca

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS