You don't have to take your child scuba diving to enjoy the beauty of the undersea world. Here are a couple of art techniques for conjuring up some decorative ocean critters at home.
Sea Stars: Once called starfish, sea stars aren't really fish, since they don't have backbones — but they do have plenty of arms (five, sometimes more) for prying open clams and the other shellfish they eat. While real sea stars are pretty elusive, often hiding under rocks, this paper variety is a cinch to round up.
Just cut out some five-pointed stars from construction paper, as shown above. In a small bowl, mix several drops each of water and food coloring and stir in 1⁄4 cup of uncooked rice or barley. Spread the tinted grain on a paper towel to dry (it only takes a couple of minutes). Now your child can spread glue on the star and press on the rice, as shown, to resemble the tiny spines that cover a sea star's body.
Coral: Coral reefs, like Australia's Great Barrier Reef, are actually huge colonies of tiny animals called polyps. Each one of those animals secretes calcium carbonate to form a stony cup (the size of a baby's fingernail) around its body. At night, the polyp extends out of the cup to catch particles of food floating by.
To create colorful reefs like the ones shown, cut out a coral shape (they can resemble fans, flowers, and even human brains) from construction paper and glue on puffed rice cereal to simulate the little cups. Then your child can tint the cereal using a brush or cotton ball to dab on undiluted paint.