For years I've been making paper with younger kids at the elementary school level on an Earth Day project. For a month or so prior to the actual papermaking day the kids collect all the blue and green paper they get in their regular mail or school handouts. You'd be surprised how much blue and green paper is in use, especially in elementary school!
When the day arrives, we put the paper into the blender and I show the kids how the paper breaks down. (I beat most of the paper ahead of time in a bigger beater or we'd be at the blender all day!). Oh they love to push the "blend" button and see the pieces of paper go whishing around. Now they have pulp to play with.
Using the tin can/pouring method to make round sheets of paper, the kids use the blue pulp to make the oceans and the green paper to make the continents. Some kids try to be so precise with their pours. Others just dump it in and are done. All of them have a ball. I board dry so they can do some embossing on the sheets as well. As you can see in the picture, this little artist chose to also use some oil pastels and outline a heart.
After the sheets are dry, I go back into the classroom to help them each bind an Earth Day booklet in which they write their wishes for the world. Here are a couple of things that the kids have written: I wish pepeal wouldn't litter, I wish there was a law when you cut down a tree you had to plant one. I can recycle by wrighting on both sides of the paper.
This is a great example of taking a curriculum topic and turning it into a fun classroom activity. In fact, papermaking can be turned into almost any school topic: chemistry, colonial careers, the Oregon Trail, botany, etc. If you're interested in additional details on this Earth Day project, I wrote an article on the process for PapermakingZine a few years ago and would be glad to share it with you.