M is for “Mache”

Inside" of our bowl done

We’ve been working a bit with Br( 3 3/4) on letter sounds on a very casual level, but I decided we needed to get a little more serious.  In wondering the blogosphere I’ve found some awesome suggestions by fellow mommy-bloggers HERE  and HERE and HERE, for example, to make it a whole letter smorgasbord!  One of the general ideas I found most appealing was creating a “memorable event” related to the letter.

The process has been more sporadic, and not as organized or as thorough as I hoped. Br mostly associates our “letter of the day” with getting to watch YouTube videos, which I can’t say was my hope.  :)

I let Br choose our “letter of the day”.  We’ve started with finding the respective letter card in 2 different sets of phonics cards we got at the dollar store or garage sale (with a picture of the letter & various pictures of things that start with that letter) and putting them up on our easel.  Then Br suckered me into asked to watch some videos- “Letter” songs, machines (though I require he come up with a machine that starts with the letter of the day for this to happen- that’s motivation for ya!)

It took us a couple days before we managed to do our “activity”.  I’d seen this idea for a Fabric Mâché bowl over at Red Ted Art.  Ours didn’t come out quite as cute as Red Ted’s, but it was still a memorable hands-on activity for the Letter M!


  • fabric
  • scissors
  • glue (we used Elmer’s Washable (non-toxic, as my kid was potentially going to be covered in it)
  • water (to thin glue)
  • bowl (for mold)
  • plate or cardboard (for under bowl)
  • cling wrap (to wrap bowl & plate/cardboard)
  • foam brush

Br picked out a small pyrex bowl to use as our mold.  I covered it in cling wrap, as well as a plastic plate to put under.

cling-wrap-covered bowl
cling-wrap-covered bowl

We scavenged for fabric to use.  We found an old T-shirt of Daddy’s, & some random fabric I bought because it was the magical combo of cute & on sale.

Voice of experience: T-shirt fabric wasn’t a great choice, as the edges roll once it is cut. Better option would have been some old cotton fabric- sheets/pillow cases, boxers, button up shirt, etc.

We did this outside (Kid + Lots of Glue= Best done Out Doors!) on the kids picnic table, which I covered with a large garbage bag.  I had Br work on cutting strips of fabric (scissor skills + fine-motor practice) from the T-shirt while I got the glue and other stuff ready.

Br cutting up an old T-Shirt into strips for the "mache" bowl
Br cutting up an old T-Shirt into strips for the “mache” bowl. I let him use Mommy’s sharp scissors…

The directions on Red Ted’s Art suggested using “PVC glue”, but I am guessing this is a European term? (the blog author is Australian, living in England).  We used washable Elmer’s, which means the bowl definitely can’t be washed, but I figure mâché bowls tend to be more “decorative”…

Br coating the cling-wrap covered mold with glue
Br coating the cling-wrap covered mold with glue

We poured a bunch of Elmer’s in a wide-mouthed recycled jar, dumped a bit of water in, and stirred with a foam brush.  I had Br “paint” the cling-wrap covered bowl with the watered- down glue while I cut up some more pieces of T-shirt.

Laying our fabric pieces on
Laying our fabric pieces on

I ended up dumping the glue & fabric pieces (1 at a time) in to a metal bowl to coat them in the glue.  Br took one look at the mess and said “Mommy, you can do that.  I’ll use my brush.” HAH!

It was problematic to try to get the T-shirt pieces to lay flat (as I forgot to consider that knits roll up).  This probably wasn’t helped by the irregularity of the shape of the “strips” (as I left that mostly to Br to cut) and the extra glue painting Br did.

Make sure the mold is completely covered, as this first layer will be the “inside” of the bowl, and that you extend beyond the edge of your mold, so you’ll have a nice “lip” to your bowl.

Inside" of our bowl done
“Inside” of our bowl done

Br cut a few strips for the outside of his bowl from the cotton fabric he chose, then I asked Br to try to cut out some shapes.  He cut out a few polka dots, then I suggested he cut out an elephant.  That was pretty challenging scissor practice for him.  After the first elephant he declared “I’m tired. You can do the rest”.  Then he headed inside.

I was already pretty glue coated, so I finished the outside of the bowl.

"outside" of bowl done
“outside” of bowl done

I went on a little Mom’s-night-out (adult beverage included!) that night with my best friend, who also happens to be an elementary school teacher. She suggested another “M” word for this activity: “messy”.  Br was pretty amused by that anecdote.

We let the bowl dry for a few days, then carefully unmolded it and peeled off the cling wrap.  I trimmed the edges.  I asked Br if he wanted to decorate the inside of the bowl, but he said he wanted it “blue”, so we left it plain.

Br's finished bowl!
Br’s finished “M is for Mâché” bowl!

I was a little afraid this had ended up too Mommy-centered, but when my brother came to visit, one of the first things Br said was “look at the bowl we made!”  Warmed my neurotic little heart… :)

Related posts:

You might want to read this too:

  • This post was singularly original...wander at will!

3 thoughts on “M is for “Mache””

    1. I would love to take part! Let me know what the guidelines are, and we’ll see what fun we can cook up! Thanks for stopping by, Maggy. We’re totally looking forward to trying some of the stuff we’ve checked out on your blog!

Leave a Reply