• Five ice cream buckets (one per group of 4-5 students) labeled Recycled Paper, Paper Towel, Toilet Paper, Newspaper, and Combination, or whatever materials you choose to use.  This is an idea if you would like to compare the different strengths of paper or demonstrate to students that any household items can be used to make paper.  Otherwise, you can just use recycled materials from the classroom so that you can emphasize the re-use concept.
  • A supply of the above-mentioned papermaking materials.  The amount needed must be enough to fill the ice cream bucket to the top with the shreeded papermaking materials.
  • An old blender (or one that you don't plan to use anymore for cooking) to turn the materials into pulp
  • Screens cut to the size of an 8-1/2 x 11" piece of paper (two screens are needed to make one piece of paper).  Each group of students (4-5 per group) can share two sets of screens.  If using wire screens, duct taping the edges will reduce the risk of cuts or punctures from the edges of the cut screen.
  • Square buckets (dishwashing buckets) or cake pans (anything relatively deep) to collect water when pouring the pulp onto the screens (referred to as the "catch buckets")
  • Rolling pins (2 per group of students)
  • A lot of extra newspaper for students to use in the drying process
  • Felt squares (2 per group).  Each class will need to have dry felt squares.  Therefore, if teaching the class several times in one day, enough felt squares will be needed to supply all classes separately, unless a dryer is available.
  • Optional:  irons, if you want the paper to be finished in class.



    Required Set-up

  • Have all the students tear the papermaking material into small pieces (it is not an exact science) and fill the bucket to the top.  If the project is being done in a weekly science lab, the paper can be torn the week before making the paper.
  • Fill the bucket approximately 3/4 of the way full.
  • Soak overnight or longer if time permits.
  • After the papermaking materials have been soaked, make the "pulp" in the blender for the students.



    1.  One group of students should have the following supplies on their work tables:  prepared pulp, one catch bucket, four screens, one or two rolling pins, two pieces of felt, and approximately a one-inch stack of newspaper.
    2.  Students will need to work in teams of at least two people.  One student needs to hold the one piece of screen on its edges very tightly over the catch bucket, while the student making paper (the papermaker) will carefully pour cupfuls of pulp onto the screen.  The key is to try and put the same amount of pulp over the entire screen so that the paper is uniformly thick.
    3.  Once the pulp is poured on the screen, the person holding the screen must continue to hold the bottom screen very tightly while the papermaker places the second screen on top of the pulp, making a pulp sandwich.  The papermaker will then carefully squish the two pieces of screen together, extracting as much water as possible.  Make sure not to let the screens slide around, or else the paper will have holes in it.
    4.  Once as much water is removed as possible, try to pull the top screen away from the pulp.  If it sticks or tears, more water needs to be extracted.  If the screen pulls away from the pulp, carefully peel back the screen from the top.
    5.  Place the pulp and bottom screen carefully onto the piece of felt with the pulp side down.  Press down on the screen and try to remove more water.  Check to see if the screen can be pulled away from the "paper."  If so, remove the screen; if not, continue to remove water by pressing.
    6.  Place pieces of newspaper on the "paper" and use the rolling pin to push more water out of the "paper."  Carefully, peel back the newspaper once it is saturated with water.  Find a dry spot on the paper and continue to roll the paper until it can be carefully handled and stays together.
    7.  Once as much water as possible is removed from the paper, place it on the counter to dry.  Place the student's name on a card or piece of paper to distinguish it from other students' paper.

    Kelley Bassett, 2000.