I just ran an art class the other day. We started with paper mache. So messy and the biggest hit with the kids! I also just found this article about the importance of being messy.
When my littlest needed a birthday gift to bring to a 5 year olds party. I decided to make a paper mache making kit. I know this particular family well. I am thinking that messy is OK with them since they invited 40 friends over to carve pumpkins with power tools at Halloween.
Here is what I included in the kit: a small Rubbermaid plastic containers, strips of newspaper, strips of white copy paper, strips of tissue paper, some pompoms, an old jam jar 1/2 full of white flour, a roll of tape. I also added a couple recycled things like toilet paper roll to get her started. I also included these instructions.