Do you find that toddler crafts are often once and done?
Do you struggle to know what to DO with your toddlers creations?
Then why not create something that is more than just a craft – something that is going to help your toddler or preschooler to develop important skills as they play?
This Cardboard Box Fish Tank is the perfect craft to keep your little ones busy in the making but also in playing afterwards! This Cardboard Box Fish Tank is like making your own toy – with lots of opportunity to develop those all important fine motor skills with chunky buttons to grasp and small slots to work with – and it looks really cool too!
Cardboard Box Crafts: Cardboard Box Fish Tank
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What You Will Need:
Cardboard Box – Shoe box size is probably best but any box will do
Cardboard – This can be any cardboard you have as it is for the frame and extra bits
Glue – Any glue will work but I used a glue gun to speed the drying process up – if you don’t have one we just replaced ours with this awesome glue gun for the price and it comes with LOADS of glue sticks (after I broke our old one when making our Postman Pat Van – check that post out here!)
Blue paper or paint – We used paper to line our inside – but you could use paint too – just use whatever you have to hand
Toilet paper roll – You should only need one but it never hurts to have a spare for any mistakes along the way!
Orange Craft Foam – you could also use card if you don’t have any foam at home
Googly eyes – because every craft needs them!
Bottle caps – Any bottle cap will do as this is to help weight your fish a little
Blue ribbon – I find ribbon works best for this as it is easy to pull through but string or cotton would work too
Chunky buttons – make sure your buttons have holes in them to thread through and are big enough for your little one to grab hold of
Green craft foam – again you could use card or even pipe cleaners – this is for the decoration so anything goes!
Marker pens – this is simple for the details so any pen or felt tip will work
How To Make Your Cardboard Fish Tank
Grab yourself a cardboard box and let’s get started!
Cutting your box – The first thing you want to do is cut the front section of your box away – if you can use a box with a lid this is super easy as most of the work is done for you! (Stick down any loose flaps on the inside so you are left with an open box shape)
Supporting the back – To create the top section you will need a cardboard back (we were actually able to use a flap from our box but if you don’t have this you could just place a sheet of cardboard on the back of your box (make sure it is pretty sturdy!)
Finish off the Fish Tank – Line the inside with blue paper (or paint blue) – just a note here we didn’t actually cover the top of the box as we knew this might cause issues when creating the holes
We also created a frame with some card by drawing around the box and making a frame slightly wider – this is optional but it does cover up any rough edges (you could actually use some masking tape to neaten it off too)
You now have a simple fish tank so let’s move on to the fun details!
(You might want to make this part yourself and then get your little ones involved in the next bit!)
Making the Button Holders and Button Holes
This next part is all about making holders for your buttons which will be pulling up your little fishes!
Toilet Paper Roll – For this next part we are going to cut toilet rolls to make little pouches or holders – cut a toilet in half and make small folds along each edge, check that you button isn’t too wide for your tube and adjust accordingly. Before gluing down make sure that your tube is not too tall as the button will fall out, but not too tall which will make it really difficult to get the button out
Repeat this step for however many fish you have – we made three as this was how many fish we could fit across without them tangling together
Making the Button holes – When you have decided how many fish you want (or other sea creatures!) and have made them their own button holder you will need to create holes that line up with each holder. I used a knife to create slit crosses and then pushed a pencil through to make it big enough to easily pull through the ribbon (make sure you don’t make the hole too big if you have smaller buttons!)
We positioned these at the same distance from the edge for each hole as our box wasn’t too deep but if you have a deeper box you could position the holes differently to make the fish appear closer and further away
Making The Fish
Foam Fish – these fish are super easy to make. Start by placing a bottle cap onto your orange foam and drawing a fish shape that is bigger than the cap – cut this out and then trace around to make the exact same fish shape for the back – draw on any feature you want, I just went for a smiley mouth and then stick a googly eye on each fish – to stick together place a length of ribbon and a bottle cap between the two fishes and glue down as shown above
Attaching the buttons – Once you have made your fish, thread the ribbon through the holes at the top of your box and thread them loosely through the button, adjust the ribbon so that when the button is flat your fish is near the bottom of the box and when you are happy with the length tie the ribbon underneath the button securely – repeat for every fish!
And there you have it! Your finished cardboard fish tank with movable fish that go up and down and spin around if you blow them! If you want to save this idea for later then save the pin below!
Don’t forget to customise your fish tank with your child’s name!
Your Very Own Cardboard Fish Tank for Fine Motor Skills Fun!
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Thanks for reading and happy crafting!
Louisa | Mum’s Creative Cupboard