Step-by-Step: Making a Paper Mache Map

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For the last several years, the kids and I have made salt dough maps for the countries we study for our homeschool group’s Around the World Day.  Last year, one of the families in our group had made a paper mache map from a kit they’d purchased.  We decided we’d try our hand at that this year, winging it as far as how-to’s.  We thought it turned out pretty good.

Supplies for making a paper mache map

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  • shredded paper
  • heavy, flat piece of cardboard (we usually use pizza boxes)
  • water
  • glue
  • enlarged map of country (we like 11X17)
  • paint (acrylic works best)

How to make a paper mache map

Step 1:  Trace you country map onto the heavy cardboard (see salt dough map post for more detail on how we do this step):

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 Step 2:  Mix glue (we used most of a bottle of Elmer’s) and enough water to make a soupy paste.  Add in enough paper to complete your project.  We used paper from our shredder and added several large handfuls.

If I had it to do over again, I think I would have mixed the paper and enough water to make it moist in the blender first, to make a sort of “paper pulp” or let the paper sit in the glue/water mixture long enough to absorb some of it and get a little mushy.  I think it would have made shaping it easier.

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Step 3:  Shape the paper mache into the country outline, being sure to build up mountainous areas.  Allow to dry thoroughly (ours took 2 or 3 days to dry completely).

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Step 4:  Paint paper mache portion of map.  Use paint or colored pencils to fill in surrounding countries and waterways (optional) and use a Sharpie to label points of interest. (Prior to painting with acrylic, we put a layer of Kilz on the paper mache portion of our map to keep it from soaking up so much paint.)

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I hope this is an activity that you and your family will enjoy.  We’ve always found that making maps really helps us to get a much better understanding of geography when we’re doing country studies.

This article was written by Kris Bales, the previous owner of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. 

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8 Comments

  1. Looks like fun! I've never tried paper mache with glue, only flower/water mixture ~ we'll have to give the glue a try sometime! 🙂

  2. Oh how fantastic! Finally, use for the paper from our shredder!!! I love this, and we're going to try it. Thanks Chris!

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