Inside: Add this colorful fish art for toddlers during your beach and ocean theme. Little fingers love painting the cardboard and then pressing tissue paper squares onto the contact paper. Makes a vibrant display in your window!
Toddlers love to work together, so I make sure to add group art activities to our agenda often.
This colorful fish art activity is a winner because it uses recycled pieces (cardboard), paint, contact paper, and tissue paper squares.
It’s simple and yet builds important skills and it looks beautiful in the window during your beach and ocean theme!
One of my favorite materials for toddler art is contact paper.
You might recall these from the blog:
I love this sticky paper because it’s so versatile and it helps build fine motor skills, getting those little hands ready for future writing.
It’s also a great way to work on the sense of touch, as toddlers are fascinated how their fingers stick to the surface as they press pieces on the contact paper.
Contact paper is also wonderful for group activities!
A big sheet of contact paper can be spread out on the table (by itself or in a shape, as we are doing with today’s activity), encouraging young children to work together as they add the provided pieces.
Because toddlers often work and play side-by-side, group art activities invite them to learn how to share space and materials. They need to interact with each other as they work, perhaps using communication while doing so.
Colorful Fish Art for Toddlers
What you will need:
- Large sheet of cardboard
- Xacto knife
- Blue tempera paint (I used two shades that the children mixed)
- Paint brushes
- Contact paper
- Tissue paper squares in assorted colors
Cut a fish shape from the cardboard. I free-handed it, and I am not an artist. Just keep it simple! I used an Xacto knife and it was really easy!
There are two steps to this fish art activity.
I love art activities that require two steps, especially with younger children with shorter attention spans. I mentioned this in my previous art activity, colorful jellyfish.
Step One: Painting the Cardboard
Pour paint into containers and place on a table along with cardboard fish cut-out and paint brushes.
I like to put something underneath group activities, as I know the paint will go beyond the artwork. I covered our table with white paper and, typical of toddlers, they enjoyed painting that, too!
There really isn’t a lot of direction needed with this simple art activity.
I told the children to paint the cardboard. Boom. That’s it!
And see what I mean about also painting the white paper?
Happens every time. Sometimes not deliberately, sometimes very deliberately.
Once the cardboard is painted, set aside to dry completely.
We did this over the course of two days, so I placed it on our drying rack until we were ready for the next step.
Step Two: Adding the Tissue Paper
Before you invite your children to participate in this step, cut a piece of Contact paper so it covers the entire fish cut-out on the cardboard.
Stick it on the cardboard so that the sticky side is face down. This means you will be sticking the edges to the painted side of the cardboard.
Flip the cardboard over so it’s sticky side up on the table.
Place the tissue paper squares in containers and place on the table as well.
Then, it’s all about pressing the tissue paper squares onto the sticky paper!
I like to tell my toddlers to “pat, pat, pat” as the place the tissue paper down.
You can add some color recognition to the activity by commenting on the colors you see.
“I see that you are pressing a yellow square onto the sticky paper.”
After the children are done adding tissue paper squares to the fish, it can be displayed in the window.
Since we didn’t cover all of the sticky surface, there was enough stickiness so I could just press the entire piece on the glass.
I did reinforce the corners with more tape just to make sure it wouldn’t fall.
And there it is! I just love how vibrant it turned out!
More Toddler Ocean Activities
Books to Go With This Activity
Toddler and Preschool Ocean Lesson Plans
We’ve done the work for you! We now have interactive thematic lesson plans for toddlers (18-36 months) AND preschoolers (3-5 years)!
I helped create these lesson plans along with a talented group of early childhood educators and homeschoolers.
Easy to follow lesson plans include activity modifications and adaptations to meet the needs of all learners.
Note: These activities come in a digital format. That means after you make a purchase, the links to the activities will arrive in an email.
For more information, click on the graphics below:
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