How to make fake coral with tissue paper

coral image by Jose Hernaiz from

When teaching children about marine life, hands-on activities help students learn more and have fun doing it. Art and science combine in this tissue paper coral project. The project is a great opportunity to teach about classification and identification of different types of coral, then make bright examples to catch the sun in your windows. Smaller sun catchers become a mobile when they are hung from wire hangers.

Provide students with simple outline drawings of different types of coral. Use this time to give a lesson about classification by identifying different types of coral by colour, shape and place where it is found.

Use the outlines as inspiration for drawing coral shapes with chalk on dark-coloured card stock. Cut these out, leaving a frame of card stock. Use the cut out as a template for making a second set of shapes. Keep the pairs together.

Tear brightly-coloured tissue paper into small pieces and set aside.

Cut a piece of waxed paper large enough to cover the entire cut out coral. Mix white glue with enough water to make it thin enough to paint with. Paint this mixture over the waxed paper.

Apply the tissue paper pieces to the glue on the waxed paper. Cover the waxed paper completely, then paint a layer of glue over the tissue paper. Allow the glue to dry.

Lay one paper frame on a table. Paint some of the glue mixture around the edges and lay the decorated waxed paper over it. Apply another layer of glue around the frame edges, on top of the waxed paper, and adhere the second frame so that the waxed paper is sandwiched between the frames. You now have a picture of coral, framed front and back by the card stock. Hang the finished project in a window with double-sided tape to catch the light.

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