Thursday, February 5, 2009

Paper Mache Penguins

Here are the results of the Grade 1 Penguin project. They turned out incredible. and are currently in the front display case at the school.
Each child chose what particular penguin they were making and then painted it accordingly.
We used the directions from this Project for the paper mache part with some alterations.
For grade 1 I decided not to do the tail and then I changed the feet. Instead of paper maching them on we opted for air dry clay.
I wanted to make sure these penguins were going to stand...I go into more detail about this further on in this post.
Materials Required:
balloons, the long skinny ones, one for each penguin
string and tape
paper towels
white glue
recycled container
air dry clay
tempura paint
acrylic paint
Follow the directions as described here, right up to the attaching of feet. We still made legs that we mached onto the body of the penguin however I used cut wood skewers instead of toothpicks. I wanted it to be more sturdy and I cut the skewers longer so the went up into the inside of the body at least 3 inches for added strength.
Let dry.
Take a lump of air dry clay about the size of the child's palm. Roll into a ball and then flatten into a base. Air dry clay runs about $10.00 a package and we had enough for 12 kids from 1 package.
After you have formed a base, take your penguin and push down into the clay to create two holes where you can glue the penguin into place after the clay dries and is painted.
Add two webbed feet placed on top of the clay just in front of the two holes you made.
Sometimes these feet don't stay stuck on the base after drying but that is OK as you can glue them back on when you are gluing the penguin into place.
Set your feet and bases aside to dry. This will take about 2-3 days.
While they are drying you can paint your penguin.
Because this was for a unit in school we wanted to paint our penguins as realistically as we could.
Before painting I traced out a line in pencil showing the division between black and white on the body.
I then taped this off. This worked exceptionally well. The kids first painted in the black part going right up to the tape.
We used liquid tempura for the painting.
We set this a side to dry and then removed the tape. We wanted our white bellies very white so I then taped off the penguin again now placing the tape on the black with the edge at the division point.
The kids then painted in the white. We let this dry and then removed the tape.
We added details with some acrylic paint.
When the feet and bases were dry I got the kids to paint them with acrylic paint..(orange or yellow for feet and we used silver for the base)
We let this dry and then I hot glued the penguins into place as well as fixed any loose feet.
The Grade 1's are very proud of those penguins. Great job everyone!
Coming up next: I have a Valentine Peacock project I just finished with grade 3 as well as some Valentine Crafts I'm doing with Kindergarten this week. I hope to post these in the next 2 days.
see you soon


  1. I am so impressed with what these young children accomplished! They are so cute!

  2. These are awesome! Paper mache was always my art supply of choice as a kid, it's so messy and fun and the final result is always great...hmm, maybe it's time to try it again for old time sake!

  3. Bravo! These are absolutely precious! the final display must be a show stopper!

  4. Thanks everyone. The display seems to be generating quite a bit of interest. It looks like it will have to be repeated with Grade 1 next year as well.
    Last year we did horses which were a hit as well, paper mached and all free standing....hmmm I sense a new post coming on.

  5. These are AMAZING!!! I love the yellow feathers! Oh you have to show the horses!

  6. Found your blog while searching for women artists and stayed for quite a bit. Loved the penguins. It's hard to believe that they were made by the first-graders... You must be very proud!

  7. Dear Gail.
    the Link to make the penguins aren't working.. please provide another link if available, i'd like to try this out with my kids in school.

    Thank you.

  8. Shawn,
    I fixed the link so you can give the penguins a try. The original link to the artist's website no longer works but lukily her tutorial is listed on the Papier Mache Resource page.
    Hope this works for you and good luck on your penguin project....we just finished this year's crop of Penguins in Grade One yesterday...I hope to have a picture of the new display on Monday.

  9. Awesome! I needed to help my first grader make a penguin, and I wanted to use paper mache. Seeing your kids' results made me feel confident we could do it, too! Thanks for posting your project!

  10. This was very helpful for my son's first grade penguin project. Thank you!!

  11. Love this! I'd love to do it, but the link isn't working for me - I keep getting re-routed to an "ad" site. Is there an updated link?

  12. Never mind....the top one works...not the second one. I got it now!