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DIY Cardboard Aquarium Craft

Two craft posts in one week! this housework avoidance must stop :)
This one came about from wanting the kids in my weekend arts and crafts class to have somewhere for the fish they would be making to call home, somewhere for the kids to admire and play with their gorgeous colourful creations.

please [read on] for all the beginning to end photos and tips on how to make your very own cardboard aquarium-

How to make an aquarium

It all started with a box, a wide slim box from my parent’s new telly!. I drew lines on the box where I wanted the opening and sawed away with the kitchen knife. I then cut slits on the top of the box to act as sliding tracks, openings from which to hang the fish from buttons and catgut. I used rounded buttons so that the smallies could grip and move their little fish over and back on the tracks. I then decided to cut circles out of each side to act as viewing portholes and give some detail to the outside of the aquarium.

Next, for some added strength I added a papier-mache layer and when dry I painted with everyday matt household emulsion paint.

With the slits cut in the top the cardboard wouldn’t have taken much use by the kids before it sagged or broke so I picked up a thin flat strip of timber at the local hardware, cut into four lengths (with the poor kitchen knife again) and hot glued them into place on the underside of each top strip. I then cut circles from cardboard, punched a few shallow holes in them so they looked like real portholes (they also served to cover up any or my wobbly cutting edges :)

Into the art class studio it came the following day and DaddyMoo kindly screwed it onto one of the walls for me. Rock solid.

How to decorate your aquarium

The Background: paint one large sheet with green paint, and another with blue, use rough strokes. When dry tear each sheet into strips and glue down in layers onto card.

The Base: what I used here were strips of different patterned and textured blue fabric roughly cut in different widths and lengths, because I had it to hand, but shredded paper or tissue or a few decorative stones from the garden would do fine. You might spend your time hoovering up the shredded paper however so maybe that’s not a great idea :)

The Fish:
Materials needed: styrofoam ovals and circles and paint, and to decorate everything from sticky dots, floaty fabric, tissue paper, googly eyes and glitter

For the 3-5yr old class Grainne and I gathered all the children around one table and using BBQ skewers we propped up each styrofoam shape to make them easy for the kids to paint in the white packing from the telly box and some flower arranging oasis.

We mixed some shiny paint with a little pva glue and the kids started painting, and one by one got to shake on some magic glitter in the class glitteriser (special cardboard box :) They then stuck on some googly eyes and with bits of tissue added the fins and tails. The tissue adhered instantly for them because of the pva in the paint. The decorating continued with some small sticker dots.

Making these creative little fishies is a really simple and fun craft – perfect for home and the classroom. The kid-centric Gemma from Buttonhead Crafts had been following what we were doing at the weekend classes on MollyMoo and very kindly donated the fish kits for the children to have fun with. The kits were absolutely ideal, containing ‘everything’ we needed including the styrofoam shapes, shiny paint, glue, glitter, sequin, skewers and rolls of floaty fabric. Everything in one box, no need to go to the craft store, no prep time. I hadn’t come across these flat oval and circle styrofoam shapes in any of the local craft shops, just the usual egg ones, so I’ll be online with Buttonhead again soon for more.

I hung the fish in the tank during the week so that when the kids come to class tomorrow they can see their gorgeous fishies in their new exciting home.


Meet The Fish :)



Daily Creative Inspiration….

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Grainne had some fun before the class expanding the character options – I love her shy little turtle and mischievous crab :)



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