Activity: Make Your Own Recycled Paper



Students will learn about how paper is made. Working together, students will make their own paper. This activity introduces students to recycling; what it is, its importance, and how it effects their lives.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY [1 = Least Difficult : 5 = Most Difficult]

5-most difficult


one 40-minute class


$5-$10 per class


1.1 Identify and describe characteristics of natural materials (e.g. wood, cotton, fur, wool) and human made materials (e.g. plastic, Styrofoam).
1.2 Identify some possible uses and advantages for natural materials (e.g. wood, cotton, fur, wool) and human-made materials (e.g. plastic, Styrofoam).

How paper is made.
How new paper can be made from old used paper.
The importance of recycling.

Recycling: the act of processing used or abandoned materials for use in creating new products*

Paper is made mostly from wood. There are also several chemicals added to paper that make it more durable. While recycling paper does help to cut down the number of trees that need to be harvested, recycling also helps to decrease the amount of trash that goes into our nation's landfill each year.

New paper is made by taking timber and removing the bark from it. This wood is then cut into small chips. The small fragments are then pressure cooked as chemicals are added. The paper then goes through the processes of cleaning, refining, and bleaching turning the paper into a fine slush. The slush is then pumped onto a wire screen where it dries and becomes a continuous sheet of paper.

In a big recycling factory, mostly newspaper and cardboard boxes are recycled. The used paper is put through the process of deinking and then placed into a huge blender with water and beaten until the paper is broken down into small fibers. Then the fibers are pressed in screens to take the water out, flattened, and dried to make paper.

RESOURCES: - for a description on how paper is made - diagram on the papermaking process (both new and recycled)

MATERIALS: (For each group)
Wire mesh screen (cut to be smaller than the cake pan)
Toilet paper (single ply will break down faster)
Mixing bowl
Rectangular cake pan
Metal fork (or Blender)
Rolling pin
Paper towels or newspapers
Assemble materials
Lay paper towels on the table


Talk with the students about recycling and discuss why recycling is important.
Arrange the students into groups. Have the students collect the materials and set up their workstations
1. Fill a bowl 3/4 full with warm water. Tear the toilet paper into small pieces and place them into the water. Beat the mixture with either a fork or a blender, until the paper is broken down into fibers. Pour the mixture into the cake pan.
2. Make a frame from the screen by folding the edges over. Slide the frame into the pan from the side so it is under the fibers. Lift the screen straight up through the water. It should be covered in fibers.
3. After the water has stopped dripping, place the screen on some paper towels or newspaper. Fold the paper towels over the screen so that the fibers are covered. Press with the rolling pin to remove any excess water.
4. Remove the paper towels and allow the paper to dry.
5. Once it is completely dry remove it from the screen and a new sheet can be made.


How is paper made?
What is paper made of?
Why do we need to recycle paper?
What happens to the pieces of tissue when you add water? When you mix it?
What does the paper look like when it begins to dry?
What other materials could be used to make paper?
How would you make colored paper?
What would you do differently to make your paper better?
How would you use the paper that was made?
Why would you want to make new paper from used paper?


See Associated Download.


See Associated Download.