How to … make a paper plate fish

Making a paper plate fish is easy and inexpensive, and it’s a great way of using up scraps.  We made lots of colourful fish at our most recent Family Fun event.  The children hung them up on string so that they looked as though they were a shoal swimming across the Library windows.

What you need

  • A small paper plate
  • scraps of tissue paper
  • scraps of colourful foil and transparent paper (we used sweetie wrappers)
  • a scrap of white paper
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • string
  • glue stick (or PVA glue and glue spreader)
  • hole punch (optional)
  • glitter

1. Fold the paper plate in half neatly.  The straight folded edge will be the top of your fish, and the curved edges will be the underbelly.  Unfold the plate again and lay it face down.

2. Spread the back of the plate with glue and cover with coloured tissue paper.

3. Cut out scales from the foil scraps and stick them onto your fish.

4. To make the eyes, draw two circles on to the scrap of white paper and cut them out.  Draw pupils in the middle of the eyes and glue the eyes on to the fish, one on each side.

5. Now fold your fish together again, and on one side draw a triangle coming in from the edge, slightly beneath the level of the eyes.  Cut this out with scissors, making sure you cut through both sides of the fish at once.

When you unfold the plate, there should be two symmetrical triangles cut out from it.

6. Now cut out two fins and a tail from the scraps of transparent paper.  You can make them more interesting by cutting into the edges.  Glue a fin to each side of the fish and glue one edge of the tail to the inside of the plate so that it streams out behind.

7. Now fold the plate together again, and punch a hole near the top edge of the fish, in the centre.  We used a hole punch designed for leather and felt, but you can use an ordinary paper punch or push a pencil through the paper plate instead.  Cut a length of string and thread it through the holes.

8. As a finishing touch, you can spread some more glue on your fish and dust it with glitter.  Your fish is now ready to be hung up so it can start swimming!

If you make a paper plate fish at home using our instructions, we’d love to see it. Send us a photograph of your fish and we can pop it up on the blog. Our email address is

Our next Family Fun event will be on Wednesday 11th April from 1pm to 4pm. Drop in and make your own photograph album inspired by the old camera in the exhibition. You’ll find us in the Events Area behind the Gallery.

Posted by: Sarah


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