Here’s a fun & portable DIY kit for kids to make a jellyfish craft. Perfect for taking with you to do on a beach trip, as a birthday party activity & favor, a summer craft, or ocean unit lesson!
This Jellyfish Craft Kit is a fun way to get in a summery, ocean kind of mood!
We came up with the idea to make individual kits for the kids to use during an “Ocean Fun Day” outreach event with 2nd graders. That way, everything would be ready to go for the kids to all make their own jellyfish together!
Putting all of the supplies together in a “kit” ahead of time really makes things simple when it’s time to do the craft. And, it’s a great thing to have on hand in case it’s rainy at the beach, or as an activity to do when the mood strikes or time opens up unexpectedly.
To make the kit ahead of time, here are the supplies you’ll need:
- tissue paper in 3-4 different colors (<1/4 sheet of each color per kit– roughly 30-40 squares total)
- curling ribbon (~8-10 feet per kit)
- 1.5″ wide ribbon (~3 feet per kit)
- twine (~1 foot per kit)
- cupcake liner (1 per kit)
- paper bowl (1 per kit)
- zip-top bag (1 per kit)
- hole punch
To make each kit, here’s what goes into it:
- a small paper bowl (for the bell) with 8 holes punched around the rim
- a cupcake liner with 3 pieces of 1.5″ wide ribbon (I used wired), each about 12″ long stapled to its center (for the oral arms)
- a piece of twine about 12″ long
- 8 pieces of curling ribbon, each about 12-15″ long (for the tentacles)
- about 30-40 small pieces (a good double handful) of tissue paper of different colors (cut into squares/rectangles)
Tip: If you’re making a bunch of kits for a group of kids (birthday party, class, etc.), cut/prep the materials first (hole-punch the bowls, cut squares of tissue paper, cut the twine & ribbon, and staple the wide ribbon to the cupcake liner). Then pack the bags assembly-line style.
For the actual craft event, you’ll just need to have these things on hand along with the kit:
- Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue mixed with a little water
- some sort of surface (like a paper bag) to work on
- a pencil (for the point)
Tip: For a group of kids, you can have bowls filled with Elmer’s glue (water it down just a tad) for them to share and a paintbrush for each kid.
OR instead (and to minimize the mess) you could just use markers instead of gluing the tissue paper to decorate the bell.
Once you’re ready to rock and roll, it’s all about the kids painting on the tissue paper pieces to the bowl (or decorating with markers):
They can overlap pieces, paint more Mod Podge or watered-down-glue and add a few more pieces. Once done, they’ll need to wash off the paintbrush (will need it once more) and let the tissue paper dry (about 15-20 minutes depending on how much glue was used).
While it dries, it’s a great chance for kids to learn all about jellyfish! Here are our picks:
1. This Ted-Ed lesson shows (great visuals!) how jellyfish sting with a 4 minute video + questions and resources for digging deeper:
2. Ranger Rick has a great piece, What Jellyfish Are NOT, that will help kids understand what jellyfish are about (the fact that they have no blood, brain, or bones is just WOW!). It also answers the question, “Are jellyfish fish?”:
3. If you have time for a snack, Jello would make for a tasty way to show the texture of a jellyfish (and that it’s 95% water)! Here’s a homemade recipe from Super Healthy Kids using fruit juice.
You can tell them that the “bell” they just made from the bowl and tissue paper would be squishy in a real jellyfish and feel like Jello.
Once the tissue paper on the bowl is pretty much dry, help out the kids with using a pencil to poke some holes & also tying the twine to hang the jellyfish:
- First find the 8 holes that might have been covered up by tissue paper and open them back up with the pencil point:
- Also use the pencil point to poke a hole through the middle of the bell, insert one end of the twine (pull it mostly through), put the end of the twine back through the hole, and tie a knot on the inside:
From there, kids can show off their tying skills (or work on them!) by tying each piece of curling ribbon onto the 8 holes.
Remind them that these represent the tentacles where the stinging cells are found. (Vinegar is a great thing to take to the beach just in case, since it will help neutralize the sting!)
And last but not least, they can glue on the cupcake liner to the inside of the bowl. This represents where the mouth is and the oral arms that surround it. The oral arms help to bring food into the mouth and are found in many, but not all, jellyfish.
Once dry, you can use a pencil or your finger to gently wrap the wired ribbon (oral arms) around it to give it a bit more lifelike look!
With everything assembled into kits ahead of time, it makes the craft event so much simpler to coordinate and a ton of fun! Not only is it a blast, but it’s a truly interactive way for kids to learn about the amazing jellyfish.
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