Paper Mache Bowls

Author Eli Malow
Grade Level 6-8,9-12,13

Lesson Plan Description
Children examine and compare different types and shapes of bowls, getting ideas for their own creation. They form a basic bowl shape using a blown-up balloon with a srip of taped-on cardboard as a base. The balloon is then covered with torn strips of newspapers dipped in wallpaper paste, letting each layer dry completely before adding the next. For the last layer pieces of white paper are used rather than the newspaper so that the bowl is white. After the bowl is completely dry, students learn about a famous Austrian artist named Hundertwasser and paint their bowls using his works as inspiration. The bowls are then sprayed with clear gloss to have the perfect finished look. For cross-curriculum education, pupils can learn about the standard of living in other countries, where a cup of rice is the only food that the average person has a day. Then, for fundraising purposes, each finished bowl is filled with a cup of rice and sold at a parents' evening. The collected money is given to a charity which alleviates hunger.

Primary Learning Objective(s):


Children design and make their own bowl in the technique of paper mache, using the works of other artists as inspiration.


Additional Learning Objective(s):


1.  Design:  Children view, compare, and contrast various types of bowls and their uses and plan their own bowl.  Children design and paint their bowl in a similar fashion to Hundertwasser.

2.  Technique: Children learn the technique of paper mache.  They learn the proper use of acrylic paints.

3.  Famous Artists: Children learn about the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

4. (optional) Children gather information about poverty and use the bowls as fundraisers for a charity working to alleviate poverty.


1.  (Class discussion)  Teacher lets children examine bowls and/or pictures of bowls including bowls with a base and leads a discussion which helps the children to notice the differences.  Teacher questions could include: How are these objects the same?  How are they different? How do they stand? For younger children, teacher introduces new descriptive words like shallow, deep, base, interior, exterior

2.  (Individual work) Teacher shows objects made of paper mache and tells the children that they are going to make a bowl out of paper mache.  Each child draws a quick sketch as to how his or her bowl could look (size of bowl, shallow or deep, size of base).

3.  (Teacher demonstration /individual work with teacher support) Teacher shows the pupils how to blow up a balloon, tie it, and attach a cardboard base with masking tape.  Children then make their own form based on their sketch.

4.  (Teacher demonstration /class work )  Teacher makes wallpaper paste while children watch. Teacher shows pupils how to rip newspaper (e.g. in one direction newspaper rips easily, in the other direction not so easily) into small strips about 1 x 2 inches wide. Children rip newspaper and put the strips into a bowl or bucket for later use.  Wallpaper paste is put in plastic bowls for each pupil.

5.  (Teacher demonstration/individual work with teacher support)  Teacher shows pupils how to dip a strip of newspaper into the wallpaper paste, wipe off the extra paste, and put it over the balloon, overlapping.  Children only need to cover the base and bottom half of balloon.

6.  The balloons are set to dry.  Drying may take a week. 

7.  After the first layer is dry, a second layer is added in the same way and let to dry.

8.  After the second layer is dry, a third layer is added using white paper such as typing paper instead of newspaper.  In this way, the bowl will have a white color on which to paint. 

9. (Class, group, individual work) As the bowls are drying, children learn about Friedensreich Hundertwasser--his life, his style, his motifs.  (see attachment).  They should be able to describe the main characteristics of his work and draw a collection of their favorite Hundertwasser motifs and colors.

10.  (Teacher demonstration, individual work)  Teacher explains how the characteristics and use of acrylics (for example, that they can be thinned with water and easily mixed with other colors, but that they are cannot be washed off when they are dry.)  Based on the motifs and colors they collected, children paint their bowls, first on the inside, then on the outside (turned upside down).

11.  After the paint is completely dry, the teacher sprays the bowls with glossy finish.  This gives a very professional look to the bowls and is highly recommended.

12.  The bowls make beautiful display objects.  We used them as a fundraiser for world poverty by filling each one with a cup of rice (the average daily amount of food in many places) and selling them, afterwards donating the money to charity.




1.  A small collection of about 6 to 10 variously shaped bowls (real objects or pictures)

2. A few paper mache objects.

3.  Prints or pictures of the works of artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

3.  Wallpaper paste, a bucket to make the paste, a long spoon for stirring the paste, bowls for each child in which to put the paste, a plastic covering for the table.

4. newspaper, white paper

5. balloons, strips of cardboard for the bowl base, masking tape to attach the cardbowl base to the balloon.

6.  Acrylic paints in bright colors and gold, paintbrushes, watercups, painting smocks

7.  Gloss finish


Assessment Guidelines:


1.  Did the pupil adequately plan her work beforehand using sketches and collecting Hundertwasser motifs and colors, even if she later changed her plan?  (As opposed to pupils who simply do whatever comes to mind at the moment)

2.  Did the pupil understand and successfully use the technique of paper mache?  (Some children use too much/too little paste, don't overlap the strips adequately, don't cover the base in a way that it is attached strongly to the balloon, give up in the middle)

3.  Can the pupil tell some interesting facts about Friedensreich Hundertwasser?  Does she know the main characteristics of his work?  Did she make an adequate collection of his motifs and colors for her own creations?

4.  Does the pupil know the characteristics of acrylic paint?  Did she paint her bowl carefully and patiently?

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