Having a Kindergartner is both fun and challenging for us parents. And with all these recitals and class presentations, making costumes for our kids can be either costly or can challenge our creativity and resourcefulness.

Our son Cedric’s preschool recently held the annual Family Day program. This is one of those days where we parents, have the chance to break from our busy work routines and get to bond with our child.  We also get to know our child’s schoolmates and their families through a number of fun group activities and games. The school has also prepared class presentations and for their Kinder class, Cedric and his classmates will be dancing The Butterfly Song ( If I were a butterfly).

Below is a link I got from YouTube of the song:

Of course they are required to dress up according to the animal assigned to them. Cedric, for his part, will be the Fish. Dressing him up can be costly if we order a custom-made costume. So we decided to make an alternative: make a paper mache costume for him. Our goal here is to make a cheaper and Eco-friendly costume. This also brings out creativity and resourcefulness in us.

Here is the step-by-step procedure we did for our paper mache costume:


Paper cut into small strips ( you can use old newspaper, tissue, etc.)

Paper mache paste ( we used a mixture of 1 part White Glue, 1 part Water)

Cut-outs from used cardboard box

Acrylic paint and paint brushes


Velcro straps and garter

Crepe paper (optional)

Sanding paper (optional)

Step 1. Making the frame. Blow balloons which will serve as the frame for the paper mache. Using adhesive tapes attach each balloon to a bowl or small bucket to hold them in place while we are applying the paper strips and paste. We used two balloons for Cedric’s fish costume. We used the upper part of one balloon to be the frame for the head and the bottom part ( where we tie the end of the balloon) for the tail.

Step 2. Making the mold. Apply layers of paper strips and paste into the balloon. Smoothen the edges using a paint brush. Let the paper mache dry and apply another layer. We made three layers so as to make a strong mold. Once the paper mache is dry, we popped the balloon.



We then made the base and fins of the fish using cut-outs from old cardboard boxes. We attached these cut-outs to the mold using adhesive tapes and applied layers of paper strips and paste. We applied five to six layers to the joints and corners to make sure that the base and fins will strongly be part of the mold.


* Note:  Making the mold and letting it dry is time consuming so be sure to have ample time in making the costume.

Step 3. Smoothen the surface. Once the paper mache mold is thoroughly dry, we smoothened the surface with sanding paper. We also checked if there are loose strips of paper and excess paste in the mold.

Step 4. Decorating the paper mache. Here’s the fun part! We let Cedric help us in painting the fish. First we painted the mold with white acrylic paint  as “primer”. The purpose of the primer paint is to coat and conceal the newspaper prints and for better adhesion of the finishing coat.


After the primer paint has dried, we then painted the fish with our desired color and design. Here, we made a clown fish inspired by Nemo in Disney Pixar’s animated movie Finding Nemo. We painted the fish bright orange. Then we painted wide strips of white with black border around the body.

We painted big round eyes with black paint for the pupil accentuated by orange border and white paint for the iris. We also painted a big smile for Nemo using black and white paints.  We also painted the tips of Nemo’s fins with black.



Step 4. Effects. Cedric should wiggle his fish tail in their presentation. So instead of making paper mache tail, which would be stiff, we designed the tail by pasting small dome-shaped cut outs of orange crepe paper into a tail shaped cut out from a cereal box. We then painted the tips of the tail with black and white.


For effect, we used the tips of a small paint brush to ruggedly paint the tips of the tail and fins with white. Then we used a black crayon to draw curves and lines in the fins.


Step 5. Making the straps. Punch a hole at  the top and on each side of the base of the fish. Do this in both the head and tail of the fish. Then we inserted the Velcro straps on the top and a  garter to connect each side of the head and tail.

And that’s it! We now have a paper mache Nemo costume for Cedric!