It snowed in Oxford today. A nice, steady snow with fat snowflakes. That doesn't happen often here. It was nice to look at, but honestly snow just just means it's extra cold out. Extra cold outside is a great excuse for extra fun (and messy) inside activity. So the girls and I made paper today. Paper making a really simple and can be made with stuff we already have around the house. Be forewarned that making paper can be VERY messy, so if you're not in the mood to have the entire room you are working in be wet, I'd advise doing it outside when the weather gets warm.
First the kids tore little pieces of paper towel and toilet paper into foil pans of water. Then they added bits of colored tissue paper (one tray was reds and pinks, the other was blues and purples). They stirred and mixed until the paper broke down. This can be done faster if you have a little food processor (a craft specific food processor), but it's more fun for the kids when they can use their hands.
I made some screens from a few old frames and some cheap tulle that we had. After the paper was thoroughly broken down and mixed, they dipped the screens into the pulp and strained the water out. The wet paper is flipped onto a piece of felt with a folded towel underneath (to soak up the copious amounts of water that will inevitably go everywhere). General it takes FOREVER for paper to dry, but drying time is exponentially faster if you put your paper between two pieces of felt and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes. Keep an eye on the microwave though especially if you are using acrylic felt. The felt we were using was acrylic felt, so after many uses it melted (which was interesting in itself). We will probably not make paper again until the spring when the kids can do it outside and the paper can dry in the sun. Now we just have to figure out a good project that calls for homemade paper.
*ETA: The paper towel didn't break down as well as we would have liked, so it made big chunks in the paper. I think just using the tissue paper and toilet paper would be a more homogeneous mix and yield a thinner (easier to dry) paper.