Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cardboard Aquarium

This week we made a cardboard aquarium to replace 
the one that fell apart months ago. 

We used a big diaper box and cut windows out of the 
two biggest sides and stuck clear cellophane on the 
inside of the box. We used what we had in the house, 
but if I were making this again, I would make two changes. 
One, I would not use irridescent cellophane. Or any 
cellophane, which rips at the slightest touch by infants. 
But especially not irridescent, which gives one a headache 
just peering through the "glass". I'd use thin, clear vinyl, 
or at least the clear plastic used to wrap schoolbooks. 
Two, I'd open up the box and lay it flat to stick on 
the vinyl/plastic panes. Much easier.

At the top of the box, we attached a handle for carrying 
the aquarium around. For feeding access, we also cut a 
trapdoor with a little hole in it, so little fingers could 
easily open it and provide sustenance for fishy friends.

Some little fingers, however, preferred to 
share fish food with the outdoor rug

and spy on the fish through the trapdoor instead

while other little fingers (and their owners) thought 
any hole in the box qualified as feeding access.
Oh well, sometimes adult-initiated design fails.

For the fish, we consulted one of our 
scuba reference books: 

and drew up some two-sided creatures on 
construction paper, which the girls decorated

along with generic seaweed and shells. The bottom-
rooted living things were glued to the floor of 
the aquarium and the free-swimming fish were suspended 
from the roof with invisible thread/beading microfilament/
fishing line/regular white sewing thread and masking tape. 
We stuck starfish directly onto the "glass" panes with 
dabs of glue. The top of the box was then taped down 
with masking tape and scrap paper was cut up into 
small pieces to be fish food. We chose not to hot-glue 
the top shut to give us the option of reopening the box 
to add more fish when we felt up to drawing more. 
When the box gets too full of fish food, we tip the 
box on its side so the food comes out of the 
side handle-holes and reuse the food.

For a full-size aquarium idea, check out Filth Wizardry's 
coral reef post and her incredible line art aquatic 
creatures templates. My computer (Bad Computer! 
Bad Computer!) refused to size her templates properly, 
or I would have had my kids color those instead!


  1. Very neat idea, I'll have to try this out with my kids with our next empty diaper box!

  2. have I readly asked if you'll adopt me? =) I'll be linking to this. Off to check out Wizzardry's blog.

  3. That is so so cool! Thanks for sharing!

  4. The project -- as always -- is fabulous. The photos -- and accompanying text -- however are priceless. Love the one of K peeking inside!

  5. Oh this is SO FUN!! I'm going to have to make one with my own little girls. We just set up our real 10 gallon tank last month, it had been in the attic since our move 2 years ago. It's so nice to have some little fishy friends around again but my girls would really have fun in the playroom with this version. Especially with the fish "food" for my two year old to play with!!


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