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How To Make Paper Look Old - Craft Activity for Kids

Have you ever fancied making an old treasure map? Or perhaps a medieval wanted poster? Or a spooky ancient letter?

Have you ever made one of these items then thought to yourself "Hang on, this doesn't look old at all! The paper's too white. The corners are too square. It's too... perfect looking!"

Then you've come to the right place.

Here at Imagining History we love doing history-themed crafts (we've done a tonne of them!) and one of our favourite things to make is an old-looking piece of paper. Aging paper is a fun craft for all ages. And the best part? It's really easy to do.

Check out our full step-by-step instructions on how to age paper below (complete with photo guidance!):

How To Make Paper Look Old (Aged Paper):

You Will Need:

Thick A4 Paper

Tea Bags


Container (such as a Baking Dish)

Paint Brush

Kitchen Roll

Hair Dryer (Optional)

Extra Long Matches or a Candle (Optional)

How To:

Step 1 - Draw or Print Your Design

Start by adding your design to your piece of A4 paper. This could be a list of Pirate Rules, a "Wanted" poster, an old map, a letter, hieroglyphs, anything really!

To add your design you could hand draw/write straight onto your A4 sheet of paper. We recommend using a bold, permanent/non-washable pen or marker to do this. This will make sure the design is nice and bold but the ink won't fade or run when it gets wet later on. If you're nervous about drawing/writing in pen straight away, perhaps do a rough draft in pencil first and go over it with pen afterwards.

You can also print your design onto the A4 paper from a computer using your home or school printer.

Step 2 - Scrunch and Tear

Next, gently scrunch up your paper into a ball then gently flatten it out again, making sure not to rip it too much. You can do this a couple of times. The more creases your paper has, the more weathered it will look.

Next, add a few small tears around the edges of the paper and tear the corners off. Be careful not to tear off any bits of paper with your drawing/writing on them.

Step 3 - Stain with Tea

Add a few tea bags into a mug of water and leave them to brew for a minute or two.

Lay your paper flat into a container such as a baking dish or baking tray. Once the tea has turned a dark brown colour, pour some of it over your paper. You don't need too much water - just enough to spread across your paper, covering it all the way to the corners. Use a brush to spread the water around your paper.

Take one of the wet tea bags from the mug and rub it onto different sections of the paper. This will add darker spots of colour. If your teabag rips, don't worry! The tea grains will add extra "dirt" to the finished look.

Step 4 - Dry It Out

Lay some kitchen roll on a flat surface. VERY gently, remove your paper from the container and carefully place it down onto the kitchen roll. The paper may be flimsy now it is wet, so go slow. Pat the paper down with more kitchen roll to remove excess liquid.

Leave the paper for a few hours to dry completely. Alternatively, if your crafters are an impatient bunch like ours, dry it out with a hair dryer.

Step 5 - Burn The Edges (Optional)

CAUTION: An adult should ALWAYS be present when using matches or candles.

Once your paper is completely dry, light a match or candle and carefully move the flame along the edge of the paper. This will singe the edges and give it a burnt look.

Some safety tips here:

  • Keep the match moving at all times so the paper doesn't catch on fire.

  • We recommend doing this activity over a sink of water so anything that you need to drop can fall and immediately be doused by the water.

  • If the paper does begin to catch fire, blow it out quickly. Dip this edge in water if the paper continues to singe afterwards.

  • If the paper catches fire and you cannot blow it out, immediately drop it into the sink of water.

  • Always move the match in the direction away from where you are holding the paper.

  • Always keep an eye on the match as it burns down. Keep your fingers away from the flame and remember to give yourself plenty of time to blow it out or drop it into the water.

Step 6 - Step Back and Admire Your Hard Work!

Your paper is now officially old looking! Now you can show your grown ups and try to trick them into thinking you've made the most important archaeological discovery of the decade!


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