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How to Make a (Almost) Life-Sized Paper Mache Empty Tomb

paper mache empty tomb Easter craft for kids

Our youth and kid project this Easter was pretty ambitious: build a life-sized paper mache empty tomb.

No big deal, right?  Some boxes, some newspaper (so much newspaper!), some glue.

This took us nearly 2 weeks to complete (!) but it was well worth the effort.

Easter crafts for kids - how to make a paper mache empty tomb

Materials Needed to Make a Life Sized Paper Mache Empty Tomb

You don't need a whole lot of materials to make this project.  The thing you need the most of is time.  And persistence.

Materials needed:

  • large boxes (we used 3 large boxes to make this project)
  • a giant balloon (obtained from the dollar store, in the party section)
  • lots and lots of newspaper
  • paper mache glue (2 parts water + 1 part flour, mixed well)
  • paintbrush or spoon to spread the glue
  • paint (lots of paint)

Note: you can get large cardboard boxes from a grocery store (just ask someone who works there - we got about a dozen boxes this way!).  You can also try going to a furniture store and ask for a couch or a refrigerator box).

How to Make a (Almost) Life-Sized Paper Mache Empty Tomb

Our empty tomb was not *quite* life-sized.  The real Jesus couldn't have been buried there.  But it was definitely big enough to fit a couple of 6 year-olds comfortably.

How to we did it:

  • We used 2 large cardboard boxes.  We kept one sealed on the bottom (for the back of our tomb) and busted open the top and the bottom of the second box.
  • We used duct tape + masking tape to attach the second box to the first, making a long tunnel.
  • We cut up a 3rd box and used the sides of the 3rd box to make flaps, so that it looks like our tomb opens outward.
  • We paper mached the whole thing.  (i.e. use a whole lot of homemade glue and newspaper and slather 2-3 layers onto the whole box).
  • Once we had 2-3 layers of newspaper, and it was completely dry, we painted the whole thing.
  • For the boulder, we paper mached a giant balloon (obtained from the dollar store).  This required more paper mache than the boxes: at least 4 layers of newspaper, done 1-2 layers at a time and let to dry in between.
  • After the paper mache boulder was dry, we painted that in another shade of brown.
  • We also made some angels out of paper plates, and used one to tell the empty-tomb Easter story.
DIY paper mache empty tomb

The kids loved this project!  I had some of the littles help with the paper mache part.  And then we used the completed empty tomb to tell the Easter story during our April Messy Church.

I got to tell the story of Jesus' death and resurrection, and I had the girls go into the tomb first (after the boulder was rolled away by the angel) to look for Jesus.  They discovered it empty (of course!) and were then tasked with going to get the disciples (the boys) and bring them along as well.

And, of course, after the supper part of Messy Church, and when the kids were hopped up on cake, it turned into Easter bowling - the kids rolled the boulder around the hall and explored the paper mache tomb some more.

Easter crafts for kids - DIY paper mache empty tomb