Friday, June 24, 2016

DIY Play Aquarium

On our vacation, we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA. Our little guy has talked about it several times since we've been home. It made quite the impression. To capitalize on his interest of all things fishy, I thought we'd make our own aquarium.

This genius idea came from Made By Joel. His example is artistic and modern - a real must see, so stop over there.

What We Used
A corrugated cardboard box
Craft knife
Watercolor paper
Paints, markers, colored pencils, blending art tissue paper, etc.
Mono filament (aka clear fishing line)

How We Made It
Using the ruler as a straight edge, on one side of the box I drew and then cut with a craft knife some slim channels, approximately an inch apart. I made sure the channels I cut were narrower than the width of my buttons.

Now my son got to decorating the background of our aquarium. I gave him a piece of watercolor paper and we layered strips of bleeding art tissue paper (lightest at the top and darkest at the bottom).

Once spritzed with water, the colors began to bleed onto the paper. My son, however, wanted to press paper towels into the top of the tissue to wipe up the excess water. The stipling of the paper towels made for some beautiful texture and we decided we liked the look so our paper towel (once dried) became the background of our aquarium. I love a happy accident!

Now I cut fish shapes out of the thick watercolor paper and my son and I colored them.

I taped the end of mono filament to each fish, strung them through the slits in the box and then wound them through the holes of a button before knotting each. This enabled my son to move the fish back and forth to make our aquarium fish (and jellyfish) more active.

To go with this activity, we read a wonderful book. It reminded us of our visit to the aquarium and all the phenomenal creatures we saw there. 


  1. this is great fun and I especially LOVE how you made the fish able to move! This reminds me of a diorama something my kiddos and I have had lots of fun with.

  2. Thank you for the epic tip of making the fish movable! I love when a trip somewhere turns into a beautiful opportunity for learning and extending that to home!