Paper Mache Maracas
One of the most vivid memories I have from early childhood revolves around a paper mache project. I couldn’t tell you what I ended up making, but I will never forget the sensation of dipping newspaper pieces into gloopy paste. The squishy, sticky feeling was so contrary to the experience of being told not to play with messy things as a kid; it felt like a giddy surprise. Plenty of people shy away from paper mache projects for that very reason. But when I recreated that memorable experience as an adult, I realized how easy it is to contain the mess, especially in the summer when the whole project can be set up outside. Go ahead, treat yourself… er… your kids, to an afternoon of guilt-free sensory fun.
Saucepan and heating element
Newspaper, printer paper, magazines (any thin, medium weight paper)
Decorative paper (not too stiff)
Scissors or xacto knife
Glue gun or glue
Filler (beans, rice, lentils, nuts etc.)
Decoration supplies (optional)
In a pot, combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 10 tablespoons water. For a group project, increase the amount by keeping the ratio 1:10. Mix until smooth and allow the liquid to come to a low boil. Simmer for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until thick and clear. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes. The mixture will start off smooth and silky, but gelatinize as it cools. It is best used within a few hours of boiling, but should last a couple of days in the fridge.
To create the egg shape, inflate the desired amount of water balloons with air and tie them off. Cut or rip your non-decorative paper into small squares. You’ll need enough paper to make 4-5 completely overlapping layers for each maraca.
Moisten a square of paper, remove excess paste and smooth onto the balloon. Repeat with each piece, making sure to overlap the previous piece slightly so as to not leave any gaps. Leave a quarter-sized hole on the knotted end of the balloon; you’ll be using that to fill the maraca. Continue until the balloon is covered with several layers, and begins to feel more solid. Add one additional layer using your decorative paper. Place on a cup or jar to dry overnight.
Once dry, gently examine your maraca for any soft spots, adding additional pieces if necessary. Pop your balloon, if it hasn’t already deflated, and discard. Fill the maraca with 1-2 tablespoons of rice/beans/seeds or other filling of your choosing. Glue a piece of paper over the opening and cover with 1-2 layers of decorative paper.
To create the handle: Form a triangle shape from a piece of rectangular cardboard by folding it into four equal lines, overlapping one end over the other and gluing securely. Decorate the handle to match the maraca and let dry. Snip three ½-inch cuts along the top of the handle and fold them back to form a base for the maraca. Using a glue gun, secure the strips onto the filler end of the maraca. Cover the strips with a few layers of paper mache to ensure they’re securely attached. Marac’ on!
If you’re looking for an enjoyable activity that is low maintenance and requires minimal setup, this one should be right up your alley. Traditional stained glass projects take time and careful planning, but you could use our cliff-notes version for a quick art and color fix.
Picture frame with glass or acrylic insert
Clear glue or glitter glue
Food coloring (Wilton icing colors work best)
Toothpicks, q-tips, paint brushes or scrapers
Squirt generous globs of glue all around the glass on the inner portion of the picture frame.
Use your finger to spread it around till it covers most of the glass.
Place tiny amounts of food coloring (various colors) throughout the glass and use the tools to spread the colors around to form swirls or shapes – limit the amount of mixing as too many colors will blend to form brown or black.
Let dry overnight and display near a window for a stained glass effect (if using acrylic, you can tape the frame directly to the window, or use suction cup mounts with hook attachments).
This is a stress-free project! Simply wash the glass or acrylic with warm soap and water to start again. When dry you can peel away the design (which is fun in its own right) to reclaim your picture frame