R . M . H



Papier Mache' Bugs: Ages 10-12

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Student Project: Teacher Bug



Supplies and Materials


  • Wallpaper Paste

  • White School Glue

  • Wax Paper or Freezer Paper

  • !" Bristle Utility Brushes

  • Paper cups for glue

  • 18 Gauge steel wire

    • 2 foot sections

    • 1 foot section

  • Newspaper

  • White paper towels

  • Colored Pipe Filters

  • Colored Tissue Paper

  • Google Eyes

  • Foam Construction Paper

  • Various Notions

  • Scrap Materials



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Session One (one hour, including clean up time)

  1. Have students write their names on the freezer paper. An 18" piece will accommodate most projects. It is not too early to emphasize the necessity of working on the shiny side of the paper -- glue doesn't stick to this surface, normally.

  2. The Armature: Take 2 foot section of wire, twist ends together to make a loop.  Gently pull so that a narrow oval results. Twist one end making a figure eight, one circle much smaller (the head) than the other (the body, 2 segments: the abdomen and the tohorax).  Tape legs across the body section. 

  3. The Thorax: Have students crumple newspaper to make a large ball.  Place crumpled ball (depending on the desired size of the insect, made from one sheet or multiple sheets) into the center of another sheet and wrap together and secure with masking tape. This is the segment that should align with the legs.

  4. The Abdomen: In a similar fashion, make the desired shape -- long for butterflies and bees.  Many beetles appear to just have a single body.  Encourage variety and creativity.

  5. The Head:  In a similar fashion, shape a smaller ball for the head.

  6. Tape the head-ball to the armature. Pushing it through the small circle of wire and then taping.

  7. Tape the thorax underneath the armature so that the legs can be folded down and taped to the abdomen. 

  8. Tape the abdomen to final part of the armature. If necessary, twisting together more wire to give structure -- long, extended abdomen. 

  9. Collect projects and store till next session. Keep the insect and the freezer paper together.



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Session Two: (one hour)
  1. At least 30 minutes before class, mix the wallpaper glue to a thick consistency, 1box for 15 to 20 students.  Adding a cup of white glue (PVA) will make a stronger bond.

  2. Return projects to students and give each student a cup of glue (for neatness, don't fill), a utility brush, and a section of newspaper.

  3. Show how to tear the newspaper into strips. Hold full sheet of paper as reading and tear downward. A rather clean, straight tear will result. Stress that perfection in tearing is not that crucial to the final project, but that the skill makes things easier.

  4. Once the newspaper is torn into long strips, have students tear into smaller sections -- about the length of their hands.

  5. Brush the entire insect, top and bottom, with the wallpaper paste. Mentioning how "slimey" the glue is before the students discover the fact on their own, defuses most reluctance to get it on their hands.

  6. There are several way to apply the glue and strips of paper.

    1. Brush on glue, apply strip, brush glue over strip. Glue. Strip. Glue.  Cross-Strip.  Emphasize that two pieces of paper cannot be stuck together without a layer of glue.  Crossing or weaving applications work best.  If one piece is laid vertical, then the next piece is laid horizontal.  Working from tips (ends) toward the center is best. (The neatest method)

    2. Smear the glue on with the hands and then applying the strips. (The best for shaping fun forms, but dries slowly and is very messy.)

    3. Dip the strips in the glue and squeeze off excess glue by pulling strips between gently closed fingers.  (Most pliable paper, reflects the form underneath. Medium messy.)

  7. Encourage students to apply a complete coat and then another.  The more coats (layers) the stronger the insect.  In some cases I alternate newspaper and paper towels to show how many layers.

  8. Pass out white paper towels, tear into strips and apply just like newspaper.  This is a substitute for white gesso.  It gives the project a white surface.

  9. Collect the project: insect and freezer paper. Let dry two days if possible -- hair dryer can be used to speed up process.  Good ventilation is important.

  10. If time is left explain how artist share and improve on ideas.  No one should feel like someone else has taken their idea. Have students take turns talking about decorating their insects and what their insect might be doing.  Explain that some students will want to create realistic insects and others very fanciful.  I mention ideas like: tutus, high-heels, gloves, helmets, belts, hats, boots.  Also, race car drivers, doctors, astronauts, basketball players, and fashion models. After that the students suggest things like: skateboard beetle, butterfly doctor,     lighthouse keeper lightning bug, lady-bug nurse.  


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Session Three: (Half Hour)
  1. Pass out projects, glue and brushes.

  2. Tear color tissue paper sheets into quarters. (Smaller sheets result in less waste.)  Let students have three sheets of their choice color.  Encourage thinking about patterns and textures, and explain that light colored bodies will show darker patterns.

  3. Have students tear tissue into strips and then apply like the newspaper strips. Glue. Strip. Glue. Cross-strip. Glue.

  4. Apply patterns in contrasting colors or tones of torn paper.

  5. Collect projects. Let dry for two days if possible.  If the previous session is dry, then one day is normally enough.

  6. If time is left, pass out drawing paper and markers and have students draw where their insects live (encouraging realism or fantasy) and try to get them to express a feeling of time (morning, noon, afternoon, night, winter, summer, fall, or spring.


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Session Four: (Half hour) + a lot of clean-up

(This session is the most variable -- some students take almost no time and others are able to work for hours. Helping each other and assigned clean-up activities can solve part of this problem.)

  1. Prepare room by setting up work stations.  Beads, buttons, google eyes in one area. Construction papers in another.  Pile of material scraps in another.  Pipe cleaners, craft sticks.  Yarns, strings, ribbons. Pom-poms, bric-a-brac, and found objects.

  2. On each students' table should have scissors and glues.

  3. Pass out projects. Have few students to talk about their plans, this will get the creative juices going.

  4. Tell them that they may get up and select items on their own and get out of the way.  This session is what it is all about.


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rmhershberger.com    Last Modified: 09/11/2008 13:59:21