This seriously adorable paper plate fish craft is so easy you can have your preschooler create their very own. I love this craft for a cute summer craft, or when we are ready to talk about the oceans, coral reefs, or my kids ask to watch Finding Nemo again.
My son told me this year his resolution was to do more crafts with mommy.
Creating fun craft projects with your children is a great way to bond and make memories. We always create these silly crafts and then name them. Sometimes they do obvious names like “orangey” or “cute fishie” but other times he picks incredible names like Norman, or Farchesco.
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Paper plate crafts are one of my favorites because they are easy to find and inexpensive — the best plates for crafts are the extra cheap, flimsy ones! They are also versatile and forgiving. You can make a mistake and simply start over, or you can make an entire school of fish without breaking the bank.
This fun paper plate fish craft is easy to make and ends up looking adorable, it’s a great way to work on those tiny hand muscles to prepare for writing someday, and work on their creative muscles so they can flourish as they grow.
I am providing you with the instructions and tips for making a clown fish, but this craft is also AMAZING for making a rainbow fish. Instead of using orange, pick all the colors of the rainbow, and allow kids to paint each scale however they would like.
My kids are always putting their unique spin on these, and I loved seeing what they could create. These are perfect preschool classroom crafts, or if you stay home with your little, this one is a great craft to add to your decorations.
I love to put crafts on their windowsills or along their bookshelves in their rooms. This way kids can decorate their rooms with their creativity.
What you need to make a paper plate fish craft
There are a few things you'll need, like a paper plate. But read through these instructions and let your (or your child's) creative heart tell you how to build this adorable little fishie.
Get the full list of supplies and directions in a handy printable version at the end of this post.
- Paper Plate
- Paint (orange, black, and white)
- Plastic Spoons
- Paint brush
You can make this fist craft your own by using different colors, adding other objects for texture such as aluminum foil, pom poms, or crumpled up tissue paper. Let this tutorials help you decide how you want to create your own fish (or fish family!)
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Pin this Cute Paper Plate Fish Craft to Come Back to Later
This easy paper plate fish craft for toddlers is a great activity to do when you're stuck inside not being at the beach because you moved away from the ocean, or when you are ready to watch a cute ocean movie with a little clown fish.
You would find this clown fish in a coral reef, specifically a sea anemone. They survive with “mutualism”, meaning they protect each other from predators. How cool!
My favorite part about this paper plate fish craft is you can make it as unique to your child as you want. This is all just a way to spark that creativity.
Some ideas for changing things up is adding a pompoms for a different texture, or pick a totally different color to go with.
Give them free rein to be creative! Let them choose their favorite colors and decorations. Once everything is glued down, they can proudly display their masterpiece on the mantle, or along the windowsills in their room.
My favorite decorations are the ones my kids made. The cool thing about these little crafts is you can make them every year if you want, or you can remake them like 30 times in a week, like my kid always asks.
And I LOVE how they can decorate their rooms every season with the crafts they created.
How do you make a paper plate fish step by step
If you'd like a printable version of these instructions, scroll to the bottom!
First things first, you need to make your paper plate into a fish shape. You can look at this image to help you shape your first.
You can allow kids to do this if you think they can! Draw where you want them to cut, and give them scissors. It doesn't have to be perfect!
Basically, you want to cut your plate into a more gradual curve on two sides. You don't want the cuts to meet on either side of your paper plate fish craft, you want it to give it a little space for its face.
Don't forget it's booty! But don't worry about it too much, later on we are going to cut some small triangles to get the back fin in the right shape.
Paper plates can be difficult to cut, so remember this when allowing children to cut out the pieces. Their little hands might tire quickly, and you'll need to jump in.
Then it's time to paint!
I painted mine to look like a clown fish, so I added orange, then black outlines to those stripes after allowing the paint to dry completely.
If you or you child wants a different look, use a different color.
This paint is the base of your fish. For a different look, you can have a purple background, or green spotted, or whatever color your child loves right now.
In our house, blue is always the favorite. The next time we do this craft, we will for sure end up with a blue fish named “little bluey”.
Next we need to cut up plastic spoons for the scales.
This isn't something a small child's hands are easily capable of doing, so I recommend you do the cutting, or cut them apart ahead of time.
If you don't have–or are against using–plastic spoons, you can replace this with folded circles.
Trace something round like a glitter container and you'll get a perfectly sized circle. A circle punch works great as well.
You can take those little circles and fold, paint, then glue to your fish. This will give you the same general texture, and your paper plate fish craft will be perfect for your family.
I used these plastic spoons we had left over from a party. They were all over the tables and floors, so I knew I could never use them for food again. But I couldn't bear throwing them away. That is how this craft was born, fear of nasty floor germs!
Glue those spoons on your paper plate, and allow to dry completely.
I started at the edge of the first stripe, and left room at the top and bottom so they “fish scales” didn't fall off easily.
Add another row where the first row ends, but add them to the space between the curves of the spoons. This gives you a nice full look, and keeps the fish from looking messy.
Remember, these little fish do not have to be perfect, we still love them!
While waiting for the glue to dry, sketch out the fins and back fin of our craft.
Cut out a small triangle shape from another paper plate. I drew the shape onto a paper plate and took a picture for you, so you can see the approximate size when you're recreating it yourself.
Time for more painting!
After cutting out your triangle shaped fins, paint the bigger half of each triangle orange, and add black edges.
Don't forget to paint your scales. I painted them so they look exactly like the background, but you can paint them different colors, or add whatever fun you'd like to your fish.
Now, take all of the pieces we made, and put it together! Attach the two fins at the top and bottom of your paper plate, and the tail at back.
Add a googly eye to the face portion, and then paint a mouth.
He is lookin' so adorable now!
You did it! You created a really adorable paper plate clown fish!
I'm all for letting kids go crazy with these crafts. So if it makes your life easier and your kids are old enough to be trusted with scissors (or you're understanding that you'll have a lot to clean up later!) let them take the reins, and decide how they want theirs to look.
Every fish can be different!
Paper Plate Fish Craft Tutorial PDF
Here is a great printable version if you'd like it!
- Paper Plate
- Paint (orange, black, and white)
- Plastic Spoons
- Glue (stick or white glue) and Glue Gun
- Draw an elongated football shape onto a paper plate, then cut it out.
- Paint a vertical stripe, then skip a stripe all along its body.
- Add black outlines
- Cut the plastic spoons and glue them onto the painted paper plate
- Paint the spoons to match
- Add googly eye, and paint a black mouth underneath
- Draw the tail and two fins on another paper plate, then cut those out as well
- Paint the fins and tail orange, with a black line along the textured edge.
- Attach them to the craft
Be extra careful with scissors and hot glue around little hands. If it makes you more comfortable, feel free to use regular white glue.
YOU should be the one to cut the spoons, because it will be too difficult / dangerous for children to cut spoons.
Let your creativity flow here! You are free to change colors. The choice is yours! I love seeing what my little's create after I show them the instructions, it's always fun and unique!