Oooh there’s just something about sharks that makes them so FIN-tastically FUN!
They’re one of our absolute favorite topics to teach about, and even after over a decade of teaching marine science, we still look forward to any chance we get to share some shark love.
There are so many different varieties of sharks and we can’t resist including many kinds of them in our children’s books too. (Not just the great white shark, like this craft, but leopard sharks, whale sharks, goblin sharks, and more!)
(If you haven’t seen our books yet, check out our ocean picture books here on Amazon.)
If you’re new here, you’ll quickly discover that we have a passion for sharing ocean love & learning…and we also have the tendency to go overboard on ocean puns. This post is no exception! 😄
-Here’s the pin for easy pinning-
So to celebrate sharks and their awesomeness, we’ve created a DIY craft that is going to blow your tails out of the water. It transforms a plastic bottle into a 3D great white shark!
In our first-ever video tutorial, we show you how to recycle (or upcycle) a plastic bottle with the help of tissue paper, glue, and our free printable shark parts template.
This is a great craft for a summer activity, for an ocean unit, camp idea, or a shark-themed birthday party.
Plus, it can be transformed into different uses, like a shark piggy bank or add LED string lights to make a shark night light:
Of course, we’ve added a splash of learning, like what countershading is and the various parts of the shark. We also created a handy labeled diagram of shark features to help locate the parts (scroll down to the end).
This activity is a great chance to encourage eco-friendly and conservation actions with kids, like recycling, repurposing, reusing, and trying to reduce waste and plastic use. It can be so much fun to transform trash into treasure!
It’s also a good opportunity to investigate marine debris and its impact on ocean animals, as well as how human actions can make a big difference in the health of the environment. (Our infographic about why the ocean is important would be a good start on how the ocean & humans are interconnected. Video version here.)
As an idea for an ocean-themed classroom, it can also be used as a reward system for the class. Simply cut an opening in the shark’s mouth and add “fish” (small fish toys from the dollar store or cut out small printed fish) each time the class gets a compliment, does something kind, or shows other positive behaviors. When the shark’s belly is full, the class gets a reward. So fun!
To make the craft, we’ve created a swimmingly fun video for an easy guide (first ever!), as well as included the instructions below to suit your style.
We hope this makes a splash in your world and adds some fun to the celebration of sharks – whether it’s for Shark Week & SharkFest or just because sharks are awesome. And don’t let the shark love stop there — share it with your crew and on social media. 💙
So, let’s dive in to the adventure:
We’d love if you’d give us a “Like” on YouTube if you find the video helpful!
- plastic bottle (we used a 48 oz. one from dairy-free milk)
- tissue paper (gray & white)
- we used about 1/3 of a sheet of each color
- mod podge or glue
- paint brush (to apply the glue)
- gray foam sheet or cardstock
- hot glue & glue gun
- printed shark parts (click here to download)
- black or silver marker (optional)
Cut the gray and white tissue paper into small squares, and make separate piles.
Find the seams on the bottle, or draw 2 lines with a marker along the bottle to divide it in half lengthwise.
Starting at a seam (or line you drew), paint glue onto a section of the bottle, and place the squares of tissue paper on the bottle:
and then paint glue over the squares as you go:
White ones go on one side of the seam or line (the shark’s underside) and gray ones go on the other side (the shark’s dorsal side):
This is called countershading and it helps the shark to camouflage, or blend in.
This means it has the best of both worlds: the shark blends in with the dark depths when you look down on it from above, and it also blends in with the sunlit surface when viewed from below.
We went all the way to the end of the cap with gray tissue paper:
You can go back and layer more tissue paper to fill in any gaps or to make it more opaque.
Set aside to dry!
Cut out the following (download & print): fins, tail, eyes, and teeth
Then, trace the fins & tail with the pencil onto the gray foam or card stock and cut out the pieces.
The stencil is flat, but you can trim the fins so that they match the curve of the bottle:
Glue the eyes & teeth onto the shark.
In real life, great white sharks can have up to 7 rows of teeth!
Use the hot glue gun to attach the fins and tail. An adult should do this part to be safe!
Let the glue dry, and you’re done!
Now let’s dream up what you can do with your finished shark! Ideas:
- handmade toy to play with
- room decoration
- night light (add a string of LED lights)
- piggy bank
- you can also use a marker to draw in the gills, lateral line, nostrils & sensory pores! (Use the diagram below to help.)
We hope you have a chompin’ good time making your shark and that you enjoy your creation. Don’t let the shark love stop there — share it with your crew and on social media! 💙
Disclaimer: All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies). Observe caution and safety at all times. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.