Making paper is an excellent lesson for almost any age. While the project can easily be conducted within a middle school classroom–and may even get easier as the age of the student gets higher up to high school and college levels–some may balk at the idea of making paper with preschool children.
Preschoolers, after all, have shorter attention spans. Plus, with the mess of handmade paper–not to mention potentially harmful instruments used–some may wish to skip the risk altogether. Certainly it is a personal choice, but young children can still very much be involved in the paper making process. Here’s how:
Have them bring in paper from home. Chance are you’ve already got plenty of paper to use from the recycling bins at school. However, letting children participate by bringing in their discarded paper from home will let them have a sense of accomplishment and involvement.
Let them tear up the paper. This is one of those times where they can make a true mess and not get into trouble for it! Encourage them to tear the paper as finely as possible, making it a terrific fine motor skill activity. This would also work during a classroom party or birthday when the bits of paper could also be used as confetti.
Let them help with the paste. You’ll have to make or purchase your screen on your own–and likely make most, if not all, of the paste–but you can let the children help stir it and even flatten it on the screen very carefully.
Decide how to use the paper together. Vote on it to teach about sharing and compromising. Offer options if the kids can’t think of many ideas and choose the top two or three to make some great creations with your paper. Perhaps you can use it for letter-writing on Grandparent’s Day, or let each child have a piece to create a special classroom book.