While this project is not one to be started and done in twenty minutes, it is the kind that will have your kids feeling like you are the coolest mom around! What kid doesn’t love a good mess, some paint, and a new friend in the end?! So whether you need an “I’m a cool mommy!” boost or if you are looking for a fun, seasonal project to keep your kids busy during the rainy, fall weekends, these paper mache scarecrows are ideal!
We have enjoyed a beautiful, extended summer this year. The 90 degree weather in September is record-setting for Chicago. We have relished the beach and shorts.
Yesterday the kids had a day off from school, and instead of the beach, Little #3 was so excited to put up our Halloween decorations. It is October after all!
As we put up our dollar store cobwebs and headstones, while jamming to Thriller and Monster Mash, it finally started to feel like fall.
I love fall!
As it began feeling like fall, I thought about all the fun fall activities I love. I thought of the post I put together two years ago with super-fun fall activities for kids.
A family highlight from that list, that the kids still remember, was making paper mache scarecrows. Today I am sharing how you too can thrill your kids with these DIY scarecrows.
Supplies to make One Paper Mache Scarecrow & Woven Hat
- Flour (about 1/4 cup) & Water mixture
- 1 Balloon
- Yarn (about 3 feet)
- Acrylic or washable paint and paintbrush
- 2 pieces of different colored construction paper or cardstock (more if you have a big scarecrow head)
- Pen or pencil
- Gluestick and tape
- One outfit you are not currently using (shirt, pants, socks, shoes, mittens or gloves)
- Old grocery bags, hay, or another stuffing material
- Safety Pins
*Keep in mind that paper mache is not made for the rain. These did GREAT on our covered porch. If you don’t have anywhere to put it out of the weather, it will need to be an inside decoration. If you’re looking for a waterproof option, this video shows a similar process with different materials that should work. It’s not quite as kid-friendly or inexpensive though.
How to Make Your Own Paper Mache Scarecrows
1. Make a Paper Mache Head
Paper mache is a really fun craft with so many applications. It can be a little messy, but clean-up is easy-peasy if you do it right away.
For these scarecrows, you will need to blow up one balloon to form the head.
You can form the balloon to the desired shape of your scarecrow head using packing tape if you want to. We left ours balloon shaped and made two sizes.
Tie yarn around the end of your balloon to facilitate working with it and hanging it to dry.
In a small bowl, mix flour and water until you get a smooth paste.
Rip newspaper into strips about an inch wide.
Dip a strip of newspaper in the flour paste. While holding the strip over your paste bowl, gently slide two fingers down the strip to remove excess paste.
Place the newspaper strip on the balloon.
Repeat this process until the whole balloon is covered with two or three layers of newspaper.
Your paper mache will be stronger if you do not follow a pattern when placing the strips, but instead place them rather randomly over the balloon.
Kids will have no problem with that part! 🙂
If you want to make it easier to paint, your last layer of paper mache can be white paper or the color you want for the scarecrow’s face. We just did newspaper though, and it worked fine.
Hang the paper mache balloon to dry.
(It may take a day or two to dry. It worked really well for us to complete the project over several weekends.)
2. Paint the Scarecrow’s Head
Using brushes and preferably washable paint, paint the skin tone for the scarecrow’s face.
I highly recommend this paint (not an affiliate link).
You may need to do a few layers to completely cover the paper mache.
Hang the balloon to dry completely. (Timing will depend on how much and what type of paint you use.)
3. Paint the Scarecrow’s Face
Using your washable paints again, paint the face on your scarecrow.
Alternately, you can use permanent markers to draw the face.
For the final time, hang your balloon to dry!
4. Make the Woven Hat
This woven hat was a bit of a challenge and the kids loved that. It was creative and the perfect finishing touch for our scarecrows.
You will need two pieces of construction paper or cardstock of different colors (more if you have a big scarecrow head), a pen (or pencil), a ruler, scissors, tape, and a glue stick. You will also need your finished scarecrow head so that you can make the hat the right size.
Trace the head in the center of one piece of paper. This circle will be the top of the hat.
Using the ruler, draw lines one inch apart across the circle. Do not draw quite to the edge.
Make three circles around the first, each about an inch wide. These will be the brim of the hat.
Draw one-inch strips on the sides of your paper. These will become the sides of your hat.
(If your head is much bigger, you may need to put all of this across two pieces of paper. Tape them together securely, and it will work fine.)
Cut along each of the black lines.
Use the ruler to draw lines one inch apart down the other piece of paper longwise.
Cut that second piece of paper into the one-inch strips for weaving.
Now your weaving papers are cut and ready.
Take one of the side strips of your hat. Measure the size of the hat by wrapping that strip around the top of the hat. Tape and trim it to the correct size.
Repeat with each of the side strips. Our hat was three strips tall.
Now you are ready to weave!
Remember, the weaving pattern is over, under, over, under.
Begin by weaving a strip (the second piece of paper strips, black in our pictures) through your brim pieces. Crease the strip so it is ready to weave upward next.
Continue weaving up the side pieces. The weaving will keep all the hat pieces together; there is no need to tape or glue the hat (green) pieces.
Crease the strip again and weave across the top of the hat. I found it easiest to weave in the middle of the top of the hat first. Later, you will add strips to either side.
Crease the strip so it is facing downward. Continue weaving down the side and through the brim. Periodically, glue the stripe into place.
If the strip is not long enough to get through the other brim, simply tape or glue another strip to it and continue weaving.
Do not worry about extra strip hanging off the edge. We will take care of that later.
Weave a second strip using the same process as the first. Alternate the pattern though. If you started over the brim with the first strip, start under the brim with the second strip. Snug the strips as close to each other as you can.
Continue weaving in this manner until you have finished as much of the top as you can.
You will notice there is space on the sides of the top where it is rounded. Use small strips to continue the weaving pattern just through the top.
After the top is finished, use shorter strips to weave from the brim up the sides.
Secure all these smaller strips with tape or glue either inside the hat or under the brim.
Trim the excess strips around the edge of the brim.
Securely glue any flapping strips into place.
The woven hat is complete! Congratulations!!
5. Put the Scarecrow Together
Gather a full set of clothes you will not be needing including long pants, long sleeve shirt, socks, shoes, and gloves or mittens.
We used an outfit each from Little #2 and Little #3, so we had two different sized scarecrows.
We had saved up plastic grocery sacks to use as stuffing, and they were super easy to use.
Stuff each of the clothing pieces with the grocery sacks.
Slide the yarn that is attached to the balloon through the shirt and tie it to the button of the pants.
Connect each of the clothing items with safety pins.
Glue the hat in place for the finishing touch.
Voila! Your Scarecrow is finished!
Enjoy your Scarecrow
These scarecrows became members of the family for a time.
The kids had fun carting them around the house…
finding new places to set them around the house…
and playing together.
I did finally relegate them to the front porch, where we continued to enjoy them!
I hope your kids are thrilled with these paper mache scarecrows and woven hats.
Let us know how your scarecrow making goes in the comments. Share any pictures on social media using #lovinlifewithlittles. What else do you love to do in the autumn?
Have a beautiful fall!