Lesson Plan

Ancient Art of Paper Making



The Chinese contributed much to the scientific and technological discoveries which are still used today; one of which is paper.

The oldest surviving piece of paper in the world is made of hemp fibers and was discovered in a tomb near Xian, China. Many people think the Egyptians invented paper, and they did fashion thin sheets of a writing material made from pounded papyrus, but paper as we know it today comes from China.


*To increase students knowledge of technological advances given to us

from China.

*To involve students in an interactive simulation of the ancient Chinese

method of paper making.

*To expose students to the art of Chinese calligraphy.



several days before

have students bring in newspaper

Day before

students cut newspaper into 1 inch squares

soak the squares in water overnight

mix the cornstarch and water in a mixer, keep in a plastic gallon milk bottle. This should be the consistency of white glue.

Day of paper making

Set up a station, preferable outside with blender, water, cornstarch, wooden spoon, cups, and bucket of soaked newspaper.

Place about a cup of the soaked newspaper, 3/4 cups water, and 3 tablespoons of cornstarch mixture into a blender. It is very important to secure the lid onto the blender, and SLOWLY start blending the newspaper. As the blender begins to liquify the newspaper, you can increase the speed, until you have pulp. Take care that the motor is moving the blades freely, if not STOP, mix the pulp with a wooden spoon, and add a bit more water.

If the pulp clogs the blades of the blender, it will burn out the motor.

When the newspaper has become "pulp" place a screen in the aluminum pan and dump about 3/4 cup of the mixture onto the screen (One blender will make enough for about 3-4 sheets of paper). Pat out pulp while still in pan and then transfer the screen to a thick piece of newspaper. This will help to absorb the excess water. Then students continue patting the pulp until it has almost covered the screen, and is as thin as possible. Transfer once again to a dry, thick piece of newspaper, and let dry. Usually this is overnight, but depending on the weather, and how much moisture was extracted, could take longer.

When paper is dry, you can CAREFULLY remove the screen. The paper is somewhat fragile and care must be taken not to tear it. During the drying process, sometimes the paper can curl, so use a spray bottle to lightly mist the paper and iron it flat.

Now you have paper and can use it to do any type of art work or calligraphy.