How to make a fake fish tank for kids

Written by karen frisch
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Most children are fascinated to watch fish swimming in a tank. For very young children, however, the responsibility of feedings and filters is too advanced. One way to entertain them without committing to aquarium care is to make a fake fish tank. The most basic kind of pretend tank can be made from things you have at home like a shoebox, construction paper and stickers. Your children can make the fish tank with you. It will give you a chance to see how serious they really are about caring for fish.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Shoebox
  • Blue paper or posterboard
  • Plastic sheet
  • Stickers
  • Pictures of fish
  • Tissue paper
  • Plastic plants
  • Tape

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    Making Your Fish Tank

  1. 1

    Stand an empty shoebox on its side. Cut a rectangular piece from the cardboard top. Throw away the piece you cut out. This will be the opening where your child can look in at the fish and "feed" them.

  2. 2

    Use blue paper or posterboard to line the three sides of the tank so it appears to be filled with water. Glue or tape the paper to the sides and back.

  3. 3

    Use coloured fish tank gravel or stones along the cardboard bottom for a realistic look. Don't make the bottom too heavy.

  4. 4

    Put plastic plants from the pet store in the tank. Set them in the stones on the bottom to keep them from tipping.

  5. 5

    Print out pictures of fish your children like, or use plastic fish or tissue paper fish. Cut out all paper fish. Glue some along the tank's back and sides. Attach others to the plastic plants with double-sided tape so the fish look like they're swimming at different depths. Add fish stickers on the blue background to make it appear you have a tank filled with fish.

  6. 6

    Measure the front of the shoebox and cut a plastic sheet to fit. Tape the plastic front to the box. Glue more fish to the front of the tank.

  7. 7

    Measure and cut a piece of plastic to fit on the top where your children will feed their fish. Tape one long end of plastic to the top of the box. Leave the three other sides open so your children can open the flap for "feeding."

Tips and warnings

  • Keep a jar of fish flakes nearby to throw into the tank so your children can get used to what it's like to feed a fish. You can use a real 10-gallon fish tank to hold fish and plastic plants. The glass tank will add an air of realism to the project. You can also use a small plastic reptile cage as a pretend aquarium. If you find wrapping paper with a fish design, you can use that for the back and sides of your tank.

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