We are child-led homeschoolers. My 6 year old decided that this month he wanted to learn about outer space. So off to Pinterest I went to look for ideas to make learning about the universe exciting and interactive.
My kid said that he wanted to bring the planets into our house. I started brainstorming ways to do this. We could paint them on paper, but that didn’t feel realistic enough. We could buy a solar system set, but where’s the fun in that? So we went with creating our own planets. By using paper mache and balloons.
Let’s talk about the process of making a paper mache planet so that you can get to work on making some of your very own. It’s very simple and messy.
- A couple of thick newspapers
- Decent-sized balloons
- Mixing bowl and spoon
- Blue, green, black and white acrylic paint
- Cup (for resting the balloon on to dry)
How to make a paper mache planet
Step 1- Prep your work surface. You can lay some newspaper down on it if you want for easier clean up. Maybe have a clean-up rag close by. And blow up your balloon so it is the size you want.
Note: I started with the Earth. Because it’s pretty. I blew the balloon up so that it was big enough, but where it still looked mostly round rather than oval.
Step 2 – Cut some newspaper up. For one planet I probably used 3 or 4 sheets of newspaper. Cut it into strips that are roughly a couple inches wide by 6 or 7 inches long. You can wing it. It won’t hurt anything. Basically skinny strips of newspaper that are about as long as your wrist to your finger tip. I don’t do perfection so I can’t give exact measurements.
Step 3 – Grab your mixing bowl, flour, water, and spoon. Add about a cup or cup and a half of flour. You can use gluten-free flour if you would prefer healthier planets. Then add about the same amount of water and stir. You want it to be like a super runny pancake batter. I wing this too. It’s more fun that way.
Now you are prepped and ready to start the creation of the planet.
Step 4 – Get everything right in front of you. Hold onto your balloon. (I tried to photograph adding strips to the balloon, but as soon as I let it go it would nosedive for whichever side was heaviest and made a huge mess. I’ll update with a video soon for a visual of the process.) Then in the other hand grab a strip of paper. Dip it into the “glue.” Just a quick dip on one side works. Otherwise your paper will start tearing if you try and hold it in the liquid too long.
Step 5 – After a brief dip in the liquid, stick it to the balloon like a sticker. Wherever you want. Besides the little tied portion of the balloon. I left that part open so I could use it to hang the planet later. But you could cover it if you wanted a funny shaped planet. Do this a lot of times. Dip. Stick. Dip. Stick. Just keep turning the balloon and covering all of it with about 3 layers of newspaper sludge. Or more, if you want. Some say to let each layer dry before applying a new one, but I don’t have time for that.
Note: you will get your hands messy. Liquid will run all over the balloon and into your work surface. When I had super soggy areas on my balloon after a few layers, I would stick a dry strip of paper over the soggy or dripping spot to help soak it up. It would stick just fine without dipping it in the bowl first. And if any edges didn’t stick, I would just dip my finger in the glue and brush the edges down.
Step 6 – Set the project on a cup with the balloon tie off in the cup so that it can dry. I let mine sit overnight. And in the morning turn it again so the part that was in the cup can dry too.
Step 7 – Time to paint! My kids participated in all of this. They did the painting, I just supplied the paints. And did little dabs here and there because it was so pretty and fun. Get a paint tray or a plate to mix your paints on.
Step 8 – Once it’s painted to your liking, let it dry the same way as before on a cup. I also painted the little tie off so that it blended better.
Step 9 – Voila! You created a planet. It’s pretty time-consuming with all the drying, but it’s so worth it. We hung ours up by tying both ends of a long white string to the tie off of the balloon and then pinned the string to an overhang on our wall so it hangs down.
I would love to see how your planets turn out! Please share in the comments or on our Facebook page.
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