Monday, September 14, 2015

Papier Mache Bear Den

I developed this project last spring for a group of 1st Graders.

They were quite successful.


- a round balloon
- white glue, water, paper towel strips for mache
- acrylic or liquid tempera in white, black, green
- recycled cereal or cracker box, some corrugated cardboard
- kraft paper or painted paper scraps (brown)
- Tacky glue
- moss
- shredded paper
-fun fur or felt, optional
- googly eyes
- black paper or foam for nose


Blow up your balloon, a little smaller than your hand.

Gather your papier mache supplies.  I like to work on top of wax paper.

I use a 1 to 1 glue and water mix.

Cover your balloon with strips. You need about 2 layers.  I use brightly coloured balloons and when you can't see the colour anymore you know you're good.

Criss cross the strips, every once and a while put a dry strip on to soak up the excess glue.

It should look like this when you are done.  Notice I left the end of the balloon poking out, this makes it easier when it comes time for cutting.

You want to let these balloons dry out, 1-2 days.

The balloons like to roll so I make a ring out of foil to keep them stable.

Half way thru the drying time you want to turn them.

When the paper mache has dried pick one side, usually the weaker one, and gently smoosh the side in.

To cut the den opening start at the balloon end and cut out a circle.  Start small you can always cut it larger.

Time to paint.  Mix your white and black paint together to make grey. Paint the entire den and then with a sponge add plain white and black.  We are trying to make it look like rock.

We did not paint the inside.  If you want to, wait until the outside is dry otherwise your papier mache gets too soggy and may collapse.

Take your corrugated cardboard and cut an oval for your base.  You want it larger than the size of your bear den.

Paint with green paint.  If you use 2 shades of green you can add a lot of depth and texture to your grass making it look more realistic.

Cut a bear body out of your recycled cereal box.

You want it too be just a little smaller than the opening of your bear den.

Now you could paint it directly or if you have some scraps of brown painted paper glue this on.

We added some fuzziness to our bears.  You can use fun fur, fleece, or felt.

The head is a rounded triangle with ears.  At school we used kraft paper, here I used some speckled paper I had leftover from my Bear Collage project.
Colour the inner ear with pencil crayon.

Glue your pieces together.  Add 2 google eyes and a nose punched from black paper or foam.

When your den is dry, glue onto the base.

Glue some moss onto the base around the sides of the den.

I get my moss from a garden centre.

We need to add a little stuffing to our dens.  You can purchase it or do what I do.  I run cardstock and newspaper thru the shredder.  Crumple the strips a bit with your hands and it works great.

Stuff the den.

Time to add the bear.  Put some glue on the feet, fold them backwards and stick on the base in front of the den. You will need to hold them in place until they set-up.

That's it.

If you are studying Bears this is a great tie in.