Are you ready to take a trip under the sea with a cool new exhibition and some fun homemade craft activities for kids? RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids is now showing at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), supported by Officeworks and part of the NGV Triennial 2023, and is set to make a splash with kids (and their parents!)

To celebrate NGV’s kids’ gallery being transformed into an interactive underwater world, these five under the sea crafts for kids are perfect to make at home, including an orca puppet and a puffer fish plaque. Designed for kids aged between three and eight, these craft projects will provide hours of entertainment and deep-sea learning as well. Get set to fine-tune kids’ motor skills with cutting, glueing and creating these cool activities. 

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Blue Paper-Ringed Octopus Wall Hanging

A blue-ringed octopus made out of paper with googly eyes, on a pale green background as a craft for kids activity.‍

While this craft creation is cute, the real deal blue-ringed octopus is far more dangerous thanks to its poisonous sting. So let’s stick to the paper version of this famous creature! Hang it up or stick it to the wall and make fun shapes with its blue tentacles.

GIF series of a  blue-ringed octopus being made out of paper, including cutting, making paper chains and glueing in place as a craft for kids activity.‍

Step 1: Layer five sheets of light blue paper and fold in half, then half again, so when you unfold them you have four creases in the paper. Repeat with dark blue paper. 

Step 2: Cut along the lines of each crease, leaving you with four panels. Then cut each panel in half again, leaving you with 80 strips altogether.

Step 3: Sort the strips into two coloured piles. Take a light blue strip and wrap to make a ring. Seal the edges with the glue stick. 

Step 4: Loop a dark blue strip through the light blue ring and glue. Repeat with alternate blues until you have a chain of 10 loops. Make 8 chains like this. 

Step 5: Cut out the blue-ringed octopus head from light blue paper, leaving a strip.

Step 6: Sticky tape the 8 chain ‘tentacles’ to the base of the head.

Step 7: Cut out rings from the dark blue paper, plus a small mouth. This can be a little tricky for kids, so it’s best for adults to help.

Step 8: Glue the rings, mouth and googly eyes onto the octopus head.

Step 9: Finally, tape the last strip into a ring, attached to the back of the head. Use it to hang your creation on a wall or a door.

Did You Know? The blue rings of this octopus, found in shallow coastal waters from Australia to Japan, are actually a warning. They only appear when it is about to release its deadly venom. This sea creature also has three hearts!

What You’ll Need

Overhead shot of craft supplies, including sheets of blue paper, a pair of scissors, tape, glue and googly eyes as a craft for kids activity.

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Jellyfish Mobile

A hand holding a jellyfish craft project made out of a purple paper plate and tissue paper tentacles as a craft for kids activity.

Jellyfish are totally mesmerising – some can even glow in the dark! This floaty mobile will add a touch of vibrant colour to any room and the super lightweight tissue paper tentacles will dance every time anyone walks past.

GIF series of steps needed to make a paper crafted jellyfish, including painting a plate and making tentacles as a craft for kids activity.

Step 1: Paint the paper plate all over with lilac paint and allow to dry.

Step 2: Using scissors, cut the plate from the edge to the middle. Then pull one edge under the other to create a shallow cone. Sticky tape both the inside and the outside of the plate to secure the shape.

Step 3: Ask an adult to help gently poke three holes spaced out around the edge of the plate. Use the tips of your scissors to do this.

Step 4: Twist some long pieces of tissue paper into 3 tight strands.

Step 5: Push the end of each tightly twisted strand through a hole and knot on the inside of the plate. Tie the three strands together with a knot at the top.

Step 6: Cut tissue paper into strands and twist and pinch into twirls.

Step 7: Sticky tape each strand to the inside of the plate and allow them to dangle down together.

Step 8: Finally, glue on googly eyes and hang your swooshy jellyfish from a hook. Now enjoy it jiggling.

Did You Know? Jellyfish range in size from 2cm long to 2m and have been swimming around for millions of years – they even existed before dinosaurs! Pretty incredible, considering they don’t have hearts, eyes... or a brain. 

What You’ll Need

Craft supplies on a pale blue background, including tissue paper, glue, tape, scissors, a paper plate, paint and googly eyes as a craft for kids activity.‍

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Orca Puppet

An orca whale puppet made out of black and white felt, shot on a pale blue background as a craft for kids activity.‍

The orca is also known as the killer whale. It roams the ocean with its family in groups called pods. Let’s dive into a cool under the sea craft project to create an orca puppet – once you get the hang of it, maybe your child can go and make a whole pod of puppets!

Step 1: Take a piece of black felt and fold it in half. 

Step 2: Download the orca template. Cut out the outline of the orca from the template and place it on top of the folded felt.

Step 3: Cut around the template, leaving two matching pieces of orca-shaped black felt.

Step 4: Add craft glue around the edges of the black pieces, but leave a section of the bottom free of glue (this is where your fingers will go!) Press the rest down to secure and allow to dry.

Step 5: Cut out the orca’s white spots from the paper template. Trace the shapes onto the white felt using your pencil, then cut out the white felt pieces and glue onto the orca.

Step 6: Finally, cut out a small circle of black felt and glue on as an eye. When the glue has dried and the pieces are firmly attached, your fingers will fit into the opening in the base and your orca is ready for action.

Did You Know? Some people think the orca’s colouring keeps it safe from attack. The top of its body is black, making it hard to see it from above the water, whereas its tummy is white. If another sea creature under it looks up towards the bright light, the orca is camouflaged that way too.

What You’ll Need

Overhead shot of supplies needed to make orca whale puppet, including black and white felt sheets, scissors, glue and a template as a craft for kids activity.‍

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Crab Headband

A child's head visible from the eyes up, wearing a red paper crafted headband in the form of a crab as a craft for kids activity.

With their big, pinchy pincers and scuttle-y walk, crabs are one of the coolest crustaceans you can find under water. Transform your child into one with this easy-to-make headband and giggle as their googly eyes bounce while they crab-walk.

GIF series of how to make a crab headband from paper, including shaping a ring, cutting out shapes and glueing in position as a craft for kids activity.‍

Step 1: Fold a piece of red paper in half, lengthways. Cut along the crease to make two rectangles.

Step 2: Glue the short ends together with the glue stick to make a headband.

Step 3: Cut out the claws and legs from the paper template.

Step 4: Trace the template shapes onto red paper with a pencil. Cut them out, so you have two red claws and eight legs. This may be tricky, so ask an adult to help.

Step 5: Cut two red pipe cleaners into two, so you have four pieces. Then glue each claw onto a half of a pipe cleaner. Sticky tape the claws to the inside of the crown.

Step 6: Add some glue to the wide end of each of the legs and glue to the front sides of the headband.

Step 7: Finally, take the other two pipe cleaner halves and glue an end of each to a googly eye with craft glue. Once dry, sticky tape the other ends inside the headband. Pop it on and you’re ready to scuttle!

Did You Know? The collective name for a group of crabs is a ‘cast’. As they grow and get too big for their shell, the old shell comes off to reveal a new, soft shell that takes a few days to become hard.

What You’ll Need

Art supplies for a crab headband craft project, including red paper, pipe cleaners, scissors and glue as a craft for kids activity.

Download the printed templates here

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Puffer Fish Plaque

Overhead shot of a green puffer fish craft project for kids, made out of tissue paper, wooden sticks and googly eyes as a craft for kids activity.‍

They may not be the sweetest-looking creature in the ocean, but the puffer fish is definitely one of the most unique. They come in a variety of colours and this green one (to hide amongst the seaweed!) also makes a lovely decoration for every kid’s bedroom wall.

GIF series of a puffer fish plaque being made from a paper plate and tissue paper as a kids' art project as a craft for kids activity.‍

Step 1: Trim the edges of a paper plate to make the foundation, leaving just the round middle.

Step 2: Place the trimmed plate on a sheet of green paper. Trace around the edge of the plate with a pencil to create a matching circle.

Step 3: Cut out the paper circle, adding square bumps as you go – cutting this may be tricky, so ask an adult to help if needed. Once cut into shape, glue onto a paper plate. 

Step 4: Cut two oblongs from leftover paper. Fold back and forth to make ‘fins’. Glue to either side of the plaque.

Step 5: Scrunch up small pieces of tissue paper. Use craft glue to attach all over the puffer fish.

Step 6: Once all the tissue paper is stuck on, drizzle craft glue over the top and press down to secure.

Step 7: Make another set of fins out of tissue paper. Glue just the inside edges on, so they pop up a bit.

Step 8: Cut matchsticks in two, and glue the pieces onto the tissue paper base with craft glue. Finally, glue the googly eyes to the middle of the plaque, and say hello to your new puffer fish friend.

Did You Know? If it gets scared, the puffer fish can blow up to three times its normal size using air or water to inflate itself. And even though they are known to be highly poisonous, in Japan, when prepared very carefully by a trained chef, they are considered a delicacy called fugu.

What You’ll Need

Craft supplies shot overhead on a pale blue background, including green tissue paper, a paper plate, matchsticks and glue as a craft for kids activity.‍

Want to dive deeper into more under-the-sea ideas? This summer, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) kids' gallery will be transformed into RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids. Supported by Officeworks and part of the NGV Triennial 2023, this brand new underwater-inspired exhibition will offer an immersive experience for all ages to learn about the ocean. The exhibition runs until 7 April. Find out more here.

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This article was originally published in 2022 and has been updated.