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


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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…

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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…

    • Lisa O

      Dear Patty,
      This art lesson was amazing! We LOVE your blog.

      I highly recommend that others get your step-by-step drawing guide (especially if you are teaching online as I am) since it really helps students see the steps for drawing the sea turtle or the fish.

      Thanks for the blog post and the resources. They are exactly what teachers need!


  • 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!

    • hscaskey@bellsouth.net

      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.

  • Bumblebees R Us Day Care Center

    This is exciting! Fish and turtles are great. I can also imagine that a seahorse will mix well with those sea creatures! Thanks for the tutorial. It seems easy but I must first try how that watercolor painting works. 🙂

  • Julia Harman

    this is really cool we did it. It was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Alli

    Thank you for the great idea. My kids loved it. We coloured with sharpies first, and then applied the texture. The material I chose for the texture did not show through after colouring.

    Awesome afternoon of art thanks to you!

  • hscaskey@bellsouth.net

    Thanks so much for sharing this! They all turned out beautiful. We went this Summer to a Turtle Release and this is perfect to do with the kids. Attempting it tomorrow. 🙂

  • Liz

    This is an Awesome project and so many Elements of Design in here… Thank You! Wonderful!!!

  • Andi

    Do you think Kindergarten could do a simple fish?

    • Patty Palmer

      Yes but make it super big so they can cut out easily. Also you may want to use heavy duty foil as little kids might have tendency to tear their drawings when coloring. Let me know how it turns out!

  • Scottie

    These are fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing all your wonderful ideas. I am also loving listening to your blog.

  • Evy

    These are beautiful. I am a librarian at a small private school. The children like to respond to a book through art (and so do I). Thank you.

  • desertsage83@gmail.com

    Hi Patty, do you think that this would be fun and easy enought for 2nd graders?

    • Patty

      Actually, no. Cutting the foil is a challenging. But it really all depends on what you do with the foil. You can create beautiful fish (the kids would love this) and add the coloring & texture but perhaps not cut the fish out. Or older kids volunteers can cut instead. Hope this helps.

  • Janet Jackson

    I am a homeschooling Gran, who lives right on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This fabulous project is perfect for both my granddaughter’s wall mural (major art project for the year) and to showcase our local environment! A heartfelt thank you to you, Patty!

    • Patty

      You are so welcome Janet!

  • Erin

    I had two of my daughter’s friends over for the afternoon and we did this project. The age range on the kids was 4-9, and all thought this was great fun and we’re successfull! The best part was watching each child create something in their own Style!

    • Patty


  • devi

    This looks like a really fun project! Is tin foil the same as heavy duty aluminum foil? Thanks!

    • Patty

      Yes…you can buy heavy and regular. Heavy is best for this project as it won’t tear as easily. 🙂

  • tdelpino@tbcschools.ca

    Why am I having to enter my name and email every time I want to download a lesson now? It’s also a bit frustrating that I have to retrieve it via a link through email.

    • Patty

      I’m sorry that downloading a free product is frustrating. We email all of our PDF’s so that we can help folks who are having trouble and to let them know of future freebies. We believe our downloads are helpful and in exchange, we ask for your email. I totally understand if this doesn’t work for you.
      Thanks so much for your feedback.

  • Heather

    Love mixing all these mediums.

  • Anne Cowher

    I will definitely have to try this! Kids love shiny surfaces. Thanks for sharing.

  • elizabeth uhren


  • Heather

    Would this work with regular Crayola markers? I’m a bit concerned about giving my children Sharpies!

    • Patty

      Actually, not really. The Sharpies are smudge proof which makes them work on tinfoil. Crayola markers won’t stay put on the foil.

  • carey

    love this lesson

  • Rosanne Steffens

    I love the texture boards. I like netting textures but stopped using them a few years ago. The nets would slip off the tables, fall on the floor and were hard to see. When I stepped on them I was slipping and sliding and sometimes falling. This is a great solution.

  • Kiki A.

    I think this is a great idea. I am cooped up in my house with my two year old sister and she is driving me crazy because she wants to do all of my favorite things to do. We don’t work well together so this project really helped.

  • Alina

    Omg! This la cool and all This paint are so cute

  • Ava Borges Rowland

    I think it is a fun craft.
    I made a foil fish.

  • Carolina Van Stone

    I LOVE IT! I think this will work for older kids, too! Patty Palmer and your whole crew, I think you are the best ever. Looking forward to this blog especially!

  • Marrissa Richards

    Love this idea! I can see it easily being adapted for higher grade levels.

  • Terisa Pearce

    I could not get the handout – Page not found

    • Bethany

      Hi Teresa! Thanks so much for letting us know. It’s all fixed now 🙂

  • Leslie

    Hi! First of all thank you so much for the resources!! Happy World Turtle Day!! It was a great addition to our Unit today! I have a question though: coloring the tin foil didn’t work for us 🙁 maybe the brand? I don’t know! Any suggestions?

  • Angelica

    This looks like a great lesson! I can’t wait to try it out.

  • Gail Rossini

    I will certainly try this. It looks amazing

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