our homemade OCEAN aquarium

M, M and I spent an entire morning working on a homemade ocean aquarium. (I love an activity that inspires that amount of focus!).  I was inspired by this simple interactive aquarium from Made by Joel.

what you need:  cardboard box ~ box cutter ~ thread ~ washers ~ paint ~ markers ~ paper ~ ocean books

I cut holes in the side and the top to let light come in from the sides.  I made a few slits for the sea life to hang. ** I was hoping that the fish would slide back and forth, but they don’t slide very well.  I still love the slits because the kids are able to take the fish out and move them around easily.**

We sat down and looked through a couple of our ocean books. We talked about the colors that represented water.  Little M choose green for the background.

I propped up a book (after M and M agreed on a page of course).  They both chose different Rays to create and spent quite a bit of time working on them.

I was very excited to introduce a new technique to Big M.  When he finished the blue of his Eagle Ray, I suggested he wait for the paint to dry before adding white spots.

Deciding how to hang the sea life was a challenge.

I tried a bent paper clip…it didn’t work at all!

I tried a button…that was better.

The washer was perfect!  I love that I could tie the thread it two places so that our pieces hang nicely.

We added shells.  I hot glued some, and Big M suggested we leave some that could be moved and rearranged.  Such a great idea!

What all day projects have you been working on?

This post is a part of our OCEAN week.

If you love this activity you will LOVE Camp Mom! Summer Activities pack this is one of the 45 simple, fun kid activities. Want to hear more?


  1. Nice idea! I wonder if my daughter would be up for slowly building her aquarium, but we need to postpone it until we are back from vacation.

    1. It would be a great activity to do over time. Each step was really its own project. Have a nice vacation=)

  2. I have done this in a preschool and prek class for years. I used shoe boxes to do this, the kids loved it, the whole project took 1 week to finish with over 20 kids.

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