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The Process of Turning Trees to Paper for Kids

by Kathryn Hatter

The trees that provide shade and abundant leaves for jumping in the fall have other important jobs as well. People can thank trees for the bulk of the paper seen and used every day. Raise your youngster’s awareness by cueing her in to the paper-making process. A tree becoming paper could be an eye-opening story for a little person. It may even spur a tree-hugging escapade!

Managed Timberlands

Tell your kiddos that, just like farmers plant corn and hay fields for harvesting, tree farmers plant trees for harvesting. The trees harvested from timberlands usually become boards for building first, and then the pulp left over from cutting the trees into boards becomes paper, states "How Are Trees Grown for Paper," a publication from the Leading Technical Association for the Worldwide Pulp, Paper and Converting Industry. Make sure you reinforce the fact that the production process doesn’t waste any part of the tree -- it all goes toward making stuff like turpentine and fuel, in addition to building materials and paper.

Working with Pulp

The pulp that will become paper mixes with water. In fact, it’s mostly water, according to the Weyerhaeuser Company. Explain to your youngster that a big assembly line works to spray the thinned pulp onto big screens that move under the sprayer really fast. On the screens, the pulp is dried by steam dryers and special presses that take away the moisture and make it flat and perfect. By the time these big machines finish, the paper only has about 8 percent moisture left -- that’s a big change!

Final Steps

After drying the paper, large machines roll the long sheets of paper onto reels. Explain to your little one that these reels are so large and heavy that it takes a heavy-duty crane to move them. A different rolling machine rewinds the paper onto not-so-big rolls that are easier to move around. This is the time when special machines cut paper into particular sizes that people want or need. Drive this process home by checking out "Trees to Paper" by Inez Snyder. The real photos in the book will show both toddlers and preschoolers exactly what the paper-making process looks like.

Recycling

Touch on the recycling process to help your little one understand how recycled paper fits into the paper-making process. Explain that papers can only be sent to recycling up to eight times to make new paper -- after this, the process won’t work properly anymore. Tell your youngster that a special recycling plant puts recycled papers into a big pot and adds water to get all the pulp out of the paper. A special machine pulls out all the unusable parts of the paper, leaving only the pulp that is good enough to make new paper. A machine cleans the pulp to get rid of ink and other icky stuff. After all this, the pulp is ready to go to the same kind of assembly line used for making paper with brand new pulp. A sprayer sprays the pulp onto screens, just like the other kind of paper.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images