Paper Mache Bowls – One of a Kind Gift for Kids to Make and Give

A paper mache bowl a really creative and inexpensive gift for kids to make and give.  The process does require a bit of time, because of the drying time, but the results are gorgeous!

When I was pondering some ideas for homemade Mother’s Day gifts that we could make here in my home daycare, Paper Mache Bowls came to mind.   I envisioned a small colourful bowl that could hold house-keys, loose change, paper clips… you get the idea.

Now, I’d never done a paper mache project with toddlers and pre-schoolers before.  In fact, I hadn’t done any paper mache since high school (several decades ago), so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’m happy to say, I was beyond thrilled with our homemade bowls turned out!

Paper Mache Bowls for Kids to Make for Mother's Day

Aren’t they gorgeous?

bowl collage

Gather your supplies:

supplies for paper mache bowls

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Prepare your bowls:

I dug a few plastic bowls out of our camping gear, and covered them with plastic wrap (tape your plastic wrap in place to secure).  I’ve also heard you can cover your bowls with a thin layer of petroleum jelly.  Personally, I thought the plastic wrap sounded like the easier method.  This step is necessary so that you can release your paper mache bowl from your plastic one once it’s dry.

How to make paper mache paste:

ingredients for paper mache paste

I mixed up a “paper mache paste” using about a cup of flour and some water.  Just add enough water, and whisk smooth until you have something that resembles thin pancake batter or wallpaper paste.  I added a couple of tsps of salt to prevent mold from growing.

You can use cut up strips of construction paper or newspaper or paper bags.  We used paper bags.

Dip your strips into the paste, run the strip through your fingers to remove excess paste, and mould the strip to the bowl.  Continue until your bowl is covered.

I set the bowls upside down over some jars, and set them by the fire for 24 hours.  They were fairly fragile when they were dry so we added another 2 layers of strips of the paper pieces, and let them dry for another day or two.  When I was certain that they were completely dry, we popped them off the plastic bowls, and I cleaned up the edges with some scissors where necessary.

Decorating your bowls:

Today the colourful, creativie fun began  Each Hooligan chose a colour for the outside of their bowl and a different colour for the inside, and they set to work painting them up.   I left their colour choices completely up to them wanting each of them to have the opportunity to use whatever colour scheme they desired.   We used acrylic craft paint and a blast with the hairdryer had them dry in no time.

Toddler painting paper mache bowl

Then they decorated them with their choices of accent colours.  Another blast with the hairdryer and they were ready for a coat of sealant.  I brushed a coat of clear craft sealant over the inside and the outside of the bowls, and they dried quickly.

What a beautiful gift for a child to make and give!

If your child would like to make his or her bowl extra special before giving it to Mom, how about filling it with these homemade bath bombs from Red Ted Art.


Happy Mother’s Day to all of you amazing moms out there!  Have a wonderful day!

paper mache bowls

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  1. Gina @famiglia&seoul says

    These are beautiful! We made a pinata from paper mache and my son loved working with the paper! I bet he would enjoy this activity too! Thanks for sharing.

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks, Gina! A pinata would be beautiful. What a great idea! Isn’t paper mache great?

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks, Trisha. Everything I’ve read says to let the paper mache dry really well in to ensure mold doesn’t grow, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to add the salt. It really is fun and easy. As long as you don’t mind the goopy-messy part, you’ll love the process. :)

  2. says

    I totally love these! I’ve made these with my students using balloons for the armature and adding a ring of rolled paper so they could stand. The funny thing is that the kids liked wearing them as hats! We will be making these…x-mas …birthday gifts… The possibilities are endless!

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks, Melissa. I thought about using the balloons. We’ll have to try that another time. And yes, ours were worn as hats too. lol Glad you like the bowls. You’re right – you could make them for any occasion!

    • happyhooligans says

      It was kind of fun to spread the process out over a few days. The kids were really excited when they finally came together. :)

  3. says

    Sooo pretty! It’s not Mother’s Day here for ages (UK) so I’ve pinned them. We haven’t done paper mch for ages, thanks for the reminder, such a fun craft and really cheap too

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks for pinning, Hannah! I hope you have fun with them. It think this will go down as one of my all-time favourite projects here!

  4. says

    So kind of you to share your Mother’s Day project. The instructions are easy to follow, also some excellent tips. I will pin this activity for future use. Thank you!

  5. Asoye says

    I am a new mom again after 22 yrs and you have helped me to entertain this new spirit! Thanks

    • happyhooligans says

      You’re so welcome! Nothing makes me happier than to know our ideas are inspiring and bringing happiness to other moms and hooligans out there.

  6. Kori Vincent says

    I love this idea! Working with paper mache is so much fun! I know my kids are going to love this!!!!

  7. Kerry says

    Ok, this is my summer project with my afternoon kids. They will love it and we have 3 weeks to get them done so no factory work. They look amazing. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Robin Armstrong says

    I think this is a great idea that I can use in my classroom. My only question(s) are did you use plastic or ceramic bowls? How did you get the paper mache off in one piece with the saran wrap?

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Robin, we used plastic bowls, but you could use ceramic as well, as long as you cover it with the saran wrap. Once the paper mache is completely dry it pops off easily in one piece.

  9. Shelly says

    I love this!! Question though…did you line the bowl with the Saran Wrap? I’m confused! I’m guessing you did but want to be sure before we start!
    Also while I’m at it, how long did you let it dry? And how many layers of paper should we use?
    Sorry! Definitely a first timer here with this! And NOT crafty!
    So love love LOVE all your ideas! I want to be a Happy Hooligan! OMG these kids are so lucky! I’m jealous. 😉

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m confused too, Shelly. lol How did you see the post, and leave comment, and not see that all that information is in the post? It’s definitely an easy project that a first-time crafter can do. Read through the post – I tell you, step by step, how we made them.

  10. Eileen says

    My bowls are drying now– but I just realized I did it incorrectly!! I lined the inside of the bowl with plastic wrap and then covered the INSIDE of the bowl with the paper mach (not the outside)! Rookie crafter mistake!! I’ll have it try it again tomorrow…

    • happyhooligans says

      That should be ok, Eileen. It will still be bowl shaped. I think it will work. Let me know!

  11. says

    Paper mache bowls are one of my favorite crafts and yours came out so amazing! I’ll be sharing this idea (and your gorgeous bookmarks too!) in a Mother’s Day round-up on The Crafty Crow soon!

  12. Kat Beaulieu says

    Hi ~ I am doing summer camp and think this would be a great project ~ working with 3 to 8 year old ~ my question is ~ can we add many layers to start with and let it dry ~ maybe in the sun? We only have a week to get through 3 projects ~ my concern is to have them dry to be able for them to paint ! Love the idea ~ thank you ~

    • kelly says

      i realize this is an old comment but i thought i’d reply anyway. You can do as many layers as you want but the more you apply, the longer it’ll take to dry. The less you apply, the less sturdy it will be. But one or two layers is all you need. Try to apply them evenly and in the same direction. You can tear at the paper but it’ll be much neater if you trim into strips or other shape.

  13. kelly says

    these are so cute. i feel inspired to do some with my kids. I have a small carton/box of wallpaper paste ready-made which is perfect for paper mache. Just so you know for future, the petroleum jelly is to go under the saran wrap to help it stay in place. it’s what my mother did anyway.

  14. Lorita says

    I did something similar with my daycare children… I used a paper (cardboard type) bowl, a combination of cut/torn squares of different colors of tissue paper and inexpensive white glue (like Elmers). They put a dab of glue on the squares to hold onto the bowl then painted/smoothed with glue over the tissue. They dried with a glass like look. It was so much easier and dried the same day.


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