Papier Mache Vehicles

These crafts are for kids who love to make things move -- miniature cars and buses, trains and planes, rocket ships and UFOs. In an afternoon, you can turn cereal boxes, paper plates, and cardboard tubes into vehicles of all sorts. And you don’t need any high-tech materials -- just flour, strips of newspaper, glue, and paint.


Flying Objects: Googly-eyed aliens ride aboard out-of-this-world flying saucers. Suspended from clear monofilament, they speed through space passing a rocket ship from earth on the way.

What You'll Need


  • Small, clear plastic containers
  • Glue
  • Lightweight cardboard containers
  • Masking or painter’s tape
  • Pencil
  • Chopsticks
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard
  • Straws
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Newspaper
  • Tempera or acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Ribbon, rickrack, stickers, and colored paper, for decorating
  • Cardboard tube
  • Paper plates
  • Small paper cups
  • Small alien figurines
  • Glue


  1. To Make the base: Look around the house for lightweight cardboard containers the right shape and size for your base and other parts. You can manipulate the shape of each box—we opened the corners of one to make windshields. Tape boxes together to secure.

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    To make wheel shapes, poke holes in box with a pencil, and slide chopsticks through as a place holder; cut out rounds from cardboard. For spinning wheels, cut straws a bit wider than car and use to replace chopsticks; slip on cardboard wheels.

  3. To cover with papier-machine: Make the papier-mache mixture by blending 1 part flour with 2 parts water in a bowl, and stir until smooth.

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    Tear or cut newspaper into strips. Dip a piece of newspaper into the mixture; squeeze with your fingers so it isn't drippy. lay paper over vehicle base; gently smooth. Continue until the outside is a few layers thick. Let dry overnight.

  5. Once dry, paint with tempera or acrylic. Glue on any details, stickers, and other decorative items. Attach wheels; trim chopsticks.

  6. To make a rocket: For an irregular shape like the rocket's, squeeze crumpled newspaper into a tapered shape, and tape in place on top of a short cardboard tube.

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    Cut out wing shapes from lightweight cardboard boxes and tape into place, then cover rocket and wings with papier-mache as directed above. Let dry overnight.

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    Paint rocket with tempera or acrylic, then decorate with stickers, rickrack, and other decorative items.

  9. To make a flying saucer: Cut a hole in the center of a paper plate, making it large enough to hold a small paper cup.

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    Place the paper plate with the hole and another paper plate together with their tops facing (stuff crumpled newspaper inside to support the sagging surface). Tape together and cover with papier-mache as directed above. Let dry overnight.

  11. Paint with tempera or acrylic, then decorate with stickers and tape. When dry, place an alien inside the cup, and tape down a pastic container (clean fruit cups or drink covers are just the right size).

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