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Making Paper

In this activity, students do their own recycling by making card paper from used paper.

How Paper is Made

First, raw materials are turned into fibres. Wood is turned into chips at a mill, then treated with chemicals and boiled under pressure to get the pulp. This dissolves the lignin (the kind of glue that binds the fibres together) in the wood. An industrial-sized blender is used to chop the wood finer for paper. If you are recycling paper, the recycled fibres—which are chopped up and soaked—are added at this point.

Repeated recycling causes pulp fibres to become increasingly less suitable for papermaking. In particular, the fibres become shorter and less flexible, producing weak and bulky sheets. Paper strength and quality can be maintained only by a mixture of virgin (new wood) pulp and recycled pulp.

Paper can be made at home, as a project that shows the effort and ingredients required to recycle what students use everyday in the classroom into a new, usable form.


  • Describe the environmental importance of recycling.

  • Describe the process of recycling as it relates to the creation of recycled paper.


  • Per Class or Group:
    Used paper to be recycled
    5 pieces of screen slightly larger than frames (As for a window or door. Available at hardware stores.)
    10 wooden picture frames
    Hot glue or staple gun
    2 big buckets (frame must fit inside)
    1 water pitcher
    1 blender
    10 J-cloths
    10 absorbent cloths (fleece, shammy cloth)
    10 small wood or plastic boards
    5 sponges
    1 newspaper

Key Questions

  • How is this paper different from the original paper?
  • How do paper makers make white paper?
  • What could you use recycled paper for?
  • Can we reduce the amount of paper that we use? How?

What To Do


  1. Shred or tear paper to be recycled into small pieces
  2. Stretch screen fabric onto a frame and fasten in place with hot glue or a staplegun. Hint: You can also make a screen by trapping window screen material in an embroidery hoop.
  3. Prepare drying “sandwich,” with layers of absorbent cloth between the cutting boards. The wet paper will go in the middle so you can squish out the water.
  4. Prepare a final station by covering a table with newspaper.


  1. Fill blender half full with water.
  2. Add two handfuls of shredded paper.
  3. Blend into a watery pulp.
  4. Put watery pulp in a bucket with space for frame to be dipped in horizontally.
  5. Stir pulp with extra water if needed.
  6. Put frame on top of screen and scoop through pulp smoothly.
  7. Let drip while you count to ten.
  8. Remove frame.
  9. Add bits for decorations (petals, sparkles) at this point if you want.
  10. Roll pulp gently onto j-cloth. Make sure j-cloth has no wrinkles
  11. Cover the pulp with another layer of j-cloth.
  12. Put the j-cloths and pulp in the middle of the absorbent “sandwich” and stand on it to squish out the water.
  13. Very gently, peel the j-cloth off the new piece of paper and put the paper onto wax paper.
  14. Let your paper dry.
  15. ​Suggest that children write their names on their recycled paper and hang it on their door or make a card for someone special

Other Resources

BC Green Games 
Return-It School