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How to make real-looking ocean waves out of paper

The ocean is the subject of many children's books and programs. The mystery of what happens beneath the surface can prompt children's imaginations and the wide array of colourful and interesting sea creatures often attracts their interest. Creating a seascape can be a fun arts and crafts activity to do with your child but it's also a good opportunity to engage them with imaginative storytelling or learning about the ocean habitat.

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Create your background. Put a sheet of white paper in the landscape position and draw a faint pencil line more than two thirds of the way up. Above this line will be the sky. Encourage your child to decorate the sky with images of birds, the sun, clouds etc.

Use pencil crayons, felt pens or paints to colour the sky. Start with a darker shade at the top and get increasingly lighter towards the line. This is easiest to achieve with paints. Once the paint is dry, felt pens can be used to draw in the details. Cut out coloured paper to make the sun and white paper for clouds and glue them into place.

Select the darkest sheet of blue paper. Line it up with the background and mark where the skyline is. Trim the blue paper, but keep it above the skyline by about an inch. Cut or tear a gentle wave into the top of the paper. You may wish to mark the wave shape out first or use freehand to create some natural variation. Glue the finished sheet to the background.

Layer up some different shades of blue. Each time cut the sheet slightly smaller than the one before so the waves have some overlap at the peaks, but reveal the colours behind in the troughs. Start with the darker colours and work up to the lighter ones.

Scrunch up your blue and green tissue paper to create texture, then spread it out and glue it over the top of the paper layers. Again, tear or cut the tops so they overlap in different places. Regular glue may cause colours to run and the tissue paper to tear, which can add texture and interest. Fixative spray creates a cleaner finish. You may wish to add some fish and seaweed to the background before you place the tissue paper over it.

Tear thin strips of white tissue paper and glue it to the crests of the waves. You can scrunch it up quite thickly to create texture and strengthen the colour, as simply gluing it flat to the background may result in the colour beneath it overpowering the white.

Tip

Add other arts and crafts materials such as glitter, crayons and cotton wool to allow your child to experiment with a variety of textures and materials.

Encourage your child to talk about their choices and what they know about the ocean to aid their vocabulary and learning.

Warning

Use spray fixative in a well ventilated room, outside if possible, as the fumes can be dangerous if inhaled.

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Things You'll Need

  • White paper
  • Pencils
  • Colours or paints
  • Various shades of coloured paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue or spray fixative
  • Blue tissue paper
  • Green tissue paper
  • White tissue paper

About the Author

Based in a small town in rural Shrosphire, Loralei Haylock has been writing book reviews, education and writing-based articles since 2006. She has a First Class Honours degree in creative writing from Bath Spa University.

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