My view so far is that the kids are the same from kindergarten through 8th grade, only the heights change and the vocabulary expands a bit.
This week my students viewed the works of Claes Oldenburg. He was our inspiration for pizza sculptures and ice cream sculptures.
My favorite image to refer to was this one:
I first did a google search for "Ice cream paper mache' " on the web and it gave me several great inspiration points to work from. From that I was able to play around at home with a few simple items that could create the right shape. I used these same materials with my 8th grade students. (Although I did this with 8th grade, I could also see this as something 3rd - 5th graders could easily accomplish as well. Maybe even younger if your students are very capable and you have the storage space)
Step 1: Materials
Step 3: Paper Mache'
From here, the paper towel is torn into small pieces. I recommend dipping your fingers into starch and wiping it onto the paper towel before wrapping around your armature. The paper towel is so absorbent that it will use a LOT of starch (more than you need) and the drying time will take MUCH longer. The first layer didn't stick as well as I would like, but continuous layers did come out very well.
Why did I use paper towel instead of news paper? -- That helps me skip a step of using gesso. I don't have the finances for gesso either. A sturdy paper towel works great in a pinch for time and materials. The texture of the paper towel is rather awesome as well.
Step 4: Dry dry dry! My students covered their armatures on a Tuesday, but many were still soaking wet on Wednesday so we left them to dry another day. I think partially the problem was the rainy weather and the fact so many of them soaked those paper towels in the starch.
Step 5: Paint. I used craft acrylic paints from Hobby Lobby for this particular project. It dried fast and allowed for multi-color layering. However, I'm sure tempera would stick fine. On the day we waited for the sculptures to dry I asked students to sketch out a plan for their scoop flavors so that helped us on painting day. My students had 1 forty-five minute class to complete painting.
A few very detail oriented students did have a little bit to touch up the next day, so a few paint brushes were out at the tables for the completion day.
Step 6: Collage
On our last day of this project I gave students a tray full of found object materials. Papers, foam, beads, yarn scraps, bits of wire, plastic, cotton, etc. I love to recycle tid-bits of junk left over from other projects for these types of details. Students were assigned the task of creating toppings for their ice cream for a finishing touch. They could cut, bend, and manipulate materials in whatever manner they felt would best create their toppings.