Story island

Papier mache story island children's craft project

A papier-mache treasure island with a twist.

One of the perks or working with House of Illustration‘s education department is being constantly inspired by the brilliant ideas of other illustrators on the team. When H said she wanted to make a treasure island I immediately thought of a Story Island project that Sion Ap Tomas developed for Key Stage 1 classes. The project is based round the idea of an island with no stories so the children must work together to create and illustrate settings and characters for a whole new set of tales.

Simply by giving H the idea that her treasure island could be the location for as yet unwritten stories took her project in a whole new direction. Suddenly she was thinking of characters, how they would arrive, what they would eat and drink (fish, mangoes, coconuts, fresh water from the lake) and the challenges they might face.

Papier mache story island children's craft project

We started the project by drawing a rough plan of the island and what might be on it. Then we opened up a box to make a rectangle of corrugated card. We created the 3d elements of the island landscape by crumpling up balls of newspaper and taping (with masking tape) into place. The inside of the volcano (where the treasure would be hidden) was made using a section of cardboard tube.

Next we covered the landscape with a layer of papier-mache, using strips of newspaper and a 50:50 mix of PVA glue and water. Then we left the whole thing to dry.

papier mache story island children's craft project

The next step was to paint the island – we did this in two steps using acrylic paint – first painting the main elements (grey for the mountains, blue for the sea etc.) then leaving it to dry before adding details like the waves, snow and entrances to caves and secret passages.paper and pipecleaner trees children's craft project

The last step was to create details for the island. Plasticine would be a good option for this, but we decided on a mixed media approach.

Palm trees were made by rolling lengths of paper up and then using scissors to cut the top half of the roll into narrow strips. Then, by curling the strips outwards and pulling the inside of the roll slightly upwards creates a palm tree effect. We added a strip of brown paper for the trunk and painted coconuts made from fimo light air dry clay.

Mango trees were made by twisting pipe cleaners, threading orange and yellow beads on the branches as we went along. The giant octopus was also made with pipe cleaners.

The abandoned castle was made by cutting and painting a cardboard tube. Other details like the turtles, whale and boat were made using fimo light air dry clay and then painted.

Papier mache story island children's craft project

Papier mache story island children's craft project

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