Have some extra laundry piling up? Need a small break? This is the experiment to do if you want some extra mom time (or as I call it, wine time). More on that below.
Does your kid ask you randomly where things come from or how they are made? That’s where this experiment came about. My daughter got TWO dreams of paper for Christmas this past year and decided that it was her job in life to write/scribble/make homework assignments for the class that she pretends to teach in her room every weekend. So we had literally TONS of white pieces of paper that just had pens all over them. She then asked how paper was made. I explained it, and she asked if she could make paper.
So get ready to make paper with your kids completely with items that are already in your kitchen (except maybe the scrap paper). A lot of people go through the work of making a mold with a screen for this. But I have a secret method that works really well and doesn’t involve making a mold! Because who has time for that?
Here we go!
- Scrap Paper
- Fine screen, or cheese cloth and cookie drying rack
- Rolling Pin
These experiments are all about what you can do with what you have at home. I am all about recycling and reusing what we already have! For the paper, we had a whole bunch of white paper that my daughter had wrote on, basically scribbles and nothing of significance. So we decided to use that paper.
For the blender, we used a Vitamix that we invested in a couple years back. It was a big investment, but we love ours! We we use it for just about everything from grinding coffee, making powdered sugar or peanut butter, the best sauces and smoothies, to science experiments! This project WILL work with a low end blender, but you might need to increase the blending time.
For the fine screen, you could choose to use an old window screen. But seriously, I still need my old window screens in my old windows, so I had to be inventive and I found a way that worked really well. I used a cheese cloth and a cookie/cake drying rack! I didn’t have any cheese cloth at the house, but I new I could get it within two days without going to the store. I am Amazon Prime obsessed and I ordered this cheese cloth and it worked great! I liked that it was food grade and not dyed so that I could also use it for other things in my kitchen. I will explain this unconventional method further down!
There are very few items of concern, since this is such an easy experiment. I LOVE this experiment because of the amount of mom time I get!
- Parents, do not do the paper prep. This is on your kids and this gives you time for whatever you need to do, while your kids are mindlessly business for quite some time. I chose this time to indulge in a glass of wine and some reading. Caution, do not do paper prep, or you seriously might regret not taking this opportunity.
- Parents, you should be the one operating the blender. Yep it’s common sense, but I feel like we all know a parent or two that needs to be told this. And if you were thinking about letting your six year old operate the blender, then maybe you are one of those parents.
- Give your paper to the kid(s) and have them rip it up; the smaller the better, but 1 inch pieces work pretty well. If you have a kid that you trust with scissors, then you can have them cut it up. You will need a medium sized bowl filled to the top with these cut/ripped up scraps. Then dump them all into a large bowl.
- Add water to the large bowl till all of the scraps are covered. You will need to let this soak for at least a couple hours, preferably overnight to help degrade and soften the fibers in the paper.
- Before you are ready to do the next step, you need to prepare the screen/mesh.
- Either use an old screen and rinse it off and scrub it so it doesn’t leave rust marks, or do the cheesecloth method.
- Take cheese cloth and open it all the way up. Fold it so that you have three thin layers (which make a sort of a mesh) and then cut two pieces to the size of paper you are hoping to make. I went big and made both “sheets” of it the size of our largest cutting board. You will basically be sandwiching the clumpy paper pulp in between the cheese cloth.
- Put the bottom layer of cheese cloth on a hard surface that can get wet and messy. We used a cutting board that we tilted (only a little bit) into the sink so that the extra liquid that we will squeeze out would go into the sink.
- Once it has soaked for a while, put about 2 cups of the water and softened paper into the blender. Blend it on high for about a minute. If it’s too thick, add some more water. Pour out onto the first layer of cheese cloth. Spread out with a spatula, kinda like you would spread clumpy frosting.
- Put the second “sheet” of cheese cloth on top of the mixture and get out your rolling pin. Roll this goopy mess out until have a uniform layer that seems like it has lost most of it’s liquid. If you can’t get a lot out, that’s ok, it just might take a little bit longer to dry.
- Repeat these steps for as much paper as you want to make.
- Now move the sheet of cheese cloth and paper pulp to the cookie/crake drying rack and put somewhere that has good ventilation.
- Once it has dried for about 3-4 hours, remove the top sheet of cheese cloth and let it dry more. Once it is completely dried you can remove the other sheet of cheese cloth.
Now you have a totally unique and homemade piece of paper. Yeah it’s a lot of work for something you can buy that is relatively cheap, but that’s not what all of these experiments are about. This is to give you and your children fun and goofy crazy time together.
Tell me how it went! Show me pics of your paper! What worked? What didn’t? Leave me comments and send me some pictures of your paper!
What else should we make? Give us your ideas on what you would like to see us do next!