foil sea turtle fish collage

Foil Sea Turtle and Fish Collage




This tin foil sea turtle and fish collage was a huge hit with my third grade class. The kids loved how the sea turtle and fish looked, swimming in the glittery waters.

Foil Sea Turtle & Fish





There are a couple of ways to make the water background for the sea turtle and fish. One method is to use liquid or tray watercolors and table salt to make a traditional speckled background as shown below or you could use Mod-Podge and glitter liquid watercolor paints.



  • To make a watercolor and salt background,  use 6″ x 9″ pieces of 90 lb watercolor paper and regular watercolor paints.
  • Wet the paper with a sponge or large brush, then mix blue and green watercolors onto the wet watercolor paper (wet-on-wet technique).
  • Sprinkle regular table salt or Kosher salt over the damp paper. Salting the surface will give the “ocean” a sparkly quality.


I made glittery paper by brushing a combination of glossy Mod-Podge and glitter watercolor paints together.  The students brushed the home-made “glittery paint” onto a piece of blue or lavender drawing paper. The results were shimmery and ocean perfect.

The recipe isn’t exact, but I used about ¼ cup of Mod-Podge and pour enough glitter paint into the solution until I saw the color emerge. It’s good to remember that the Mod-Podge dries to a clear finish, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the glitter at first. It will dry and the sparkles will emerge!


After making the background, decide of you want to draw a Sea Turtle or Fish. If you draw fish, you can draw two or even three to fit onto the paper. The sea turtle is larger and is best to draw just one.


Set the ocean paper aside and use the handout to draw the fish or sea turtle.  The idea is to keep the drawing very simple because the drawing will be created on tin foil. It may be helpful to do a practice drawing on a piece of paper cut to the same size of the tin foil.

Draw one turtle or 2-3 fish on a piece of 6 x 9 heavy duty tin foil. Do not color in yet.



To make a texture board, cut heavy board (tag board, etc) into 9″ x 6″ rectangles.

Cut up old mesh vegetable bags and tape to cardboard. I made about 25 and had a few 6th graders help with the taping.



Hand out pieces of tin foil, colored permanent markers and texture boards. Make sure to use permanent markers as regular Crayola markers will smudge. I like Sharpie brand markers.

Put tin foil directly onto texture boards and COLOR fish or turtle with Sharpies and watch the texture of the netting show through. The kids LOVE this step. I do, too. It’s really cool.
After coloring the turtle and fish, carefully cut out fish and glue (white school glue) onto dry glittery or watercolor paper. This part isn’t easy as sometimes the tin foil will tear. If you can persuade your students to draw large turtles and fish, the process will be much easier and far more satisfying.

Here’s a free drawing handout PDF you can get by emailCLICK to get the Handout for How to Draw a Sea Turtle & Fish Handout

Third Grade Gallery


For more art lessons on other various animals, click HERE.

HAVE YOU TRIED THIS LESSON? Let me know what you think…

What do you think?

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  • Katie Gonzalez

    What a cool technique – these are really beautiful!

  • Sonja

    I would just like to say that I absolutely love this blog! So much inspiration! Thank you for the time you take sharing it with us.

  • Patty P

    Katie: I know! The kids loved this lesson. My third grade classes have been challenging this year so I knew I needed something great to hold their attention. It worked. The kids were attentive and engaged. Just make sure to explain that the foil might tear when cutting but that gluing will fix the problem.

    Sonja:Thanks so much for saying this. It keeps me going!

  • Anonymous

    Hi. First of all this site is terrific so thank you! It may sound like a silly question but could you please tell me what you mean by coloured sharpies? In Australia we may use another term?

  • Patty P

    Sharpies are a cheap brand of waterproof markers in the US. Thanks for pointing out the confusion!

    • Lisa

      These look beautiful! I can’t wait to try them.I just thought of an idea, maybe fully glue foil to a piece of reg paper (with dots of glue) then put on board with netting. Maybe it will be stronger…

  • kim

    Wow! This is probably one of the best art blogs around. I am a second year elementary art teacher and it was extremely helpful in planning lessons. I am planning on using so many of your ideas. Thank you so much and keep up the great work. Is there a spot where people can post some of their best project ideas? It might add to the whole community! 🙂

  • Patty P

    Hi Kim,
    Your idea of starting a community board is fantastic. How do I do it? Seriously! Perhaps the best way is to
    open up a Flicker account and have people post there…or email me photos? Any suggestions?

  • artworker

    Wow excited, thanks for freshing my ideas.

  • Danielle

    I’m student teaching in 4th grade right now. I am very fortunate that I get to teach art to my class since the school doesn’t have an art teacher. I made these with my class and they turned out absolutely amazing! My class has gotten so many compliments! Thanks for all the great and fun ideas!

  • janet

    I have texture plates that we used instead of having to make ones with the netting. They worked well! Your ideas are inspiring and awesome. I love all of the pictures you post!

  • Mrs.C

    Cute project! 🙂

  • Charlene

    Facebook has an amazing art teacher group! You guys should join!


      What’s the name of the group, if you don’t mind sharing?

      • Carol Sloan

        I’d like to know the name of the facebook art teachers group as well.