Aquarium Sculptures (Artquariums)

aquarium sculptures


Students will make colorful paper aquarium sculptures.


Students will:

  • Learn to sculpt/construct with newspaper.
  • Identify different underwater creatures.
  • Understand the importance of recycling in the community.
  • Explain, illustrate, describe, and apply ideas.
  • Choose shapes, colors, and patterns to design sculpture.


  • Visit an Aquarium in their area to make comparisons and learn about the underwater creatures.
  • Plan preliminary sketches on paper before beginning sculpture.
  • Construct and sculpt with chosen materials to create creature in paper mache.
  • Self-evaluate and give an opinion about own and peer’s artwork.

What You Need:

  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Paper mache glue (wallpaper paste) or flour and water (see papier mache info here)
  • Wooden spoon & bowl to mix
  • Containers for paper mache for students
  • Sink and paper towel for clean up
  • Smocks
  • Cardboard
  • Wrapping paper rolls, empty tissue boxes (optional)
  • Fishing line
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Paint
  • Water cups
  • Brushes
  • Pencil and paper for sketches before beginning constructing
  • Storage & drying space for projects in process
  • Optional: Envirotex Lite gloss coating, gloves and a ventilated area (after school – not a step for students). A spray or brush-on water-based varnish may be used in place of Envirotex-Lite.

What You Do:

  1. Collect and set up all materials and supplies before class along with samples and examples.
  2. Discuss different underwater creatures: real and fantasy.
  3. Have students discuss different colors and patterns of these creatures.
  4. Have students make preliminary sketches before choosing and constructing own creature.
  5. Have students begin constructing when they have completed their own drawings.
  6. Demonstrate how to fold, crunch, and twist the newspaper tightly. Remind students not to use a huge amount of tape because the paper mache will have a hard time drying and sticking to the tape. Ask students if they have any questions.
  7. Circulate to assist students needing help.
  8. Have students begin adding paper mache when the creature has been completely formed with newspaper and cardboard. Have students completely cover constructed creature with mache by dipping small ripped newspaper pieces in the mache letting extra drip off into the container first and then laying flat and smooth on to project. Cover with at least 2 coats letting it dry before painting.
  9. Students may draw on design for painting.
  10. Begin painting creature let each coat dry in between or for putting colors next to each other.
  11. Coat with Envirotex Lite after school in a well ventilated area. (Teacher or other Adult only). A spray or brush-on water-based varnish may be used in place of Envirotex-lite.
  12. Display and discuss the process compare to preliminary sketches.
  13. Have students collaborate and design how to exhibit either in a glass case if available or build a large scale case with either Plexiglas or clear acrylic paper. 2 x 4’s, hammer, and nails, with a plywood bottom. Complete with beach sand, shells, and dried starfish. Attach dowels on top and hang creatures with fishing line.


  • Attendance, Behavior, Effort, Verbal Discussion, Cooperation, Problem Solving
  • Were students able to draw preliminary sketches before beginning their sculpture?
  • Were students successful with following multi-step directions?
  • Were students able to choose shapes, patterns and colors to design their creature?
  • Did students enjoy the trip to the Aquarium and were they able to make comparisons?
  • Were students able to understand the connections between the different disciplines?
  • Were students able to evaluate their sculpture and other student’s sculptures?
  • Were students able to value the importance to recycle in the community?
❖ Similar Categories: Sculpture/Collage Lessons for Kids
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