Zero Dollar DIY (Egg Carton Craft): How to Make Egg Carton Fish

By Brittni • Updated on 11/08/2023

A cute egg carton craft idea to do with your kids.

Toddler holding colorful fish made of recycled egg cartons in grassy yard

We’ve been saving up egg cartons for weeks to make some egg carton fish and Hayes loves them.

We have a few in his room as decoration – hanging from the door knob and on the wall.

And then we have a few more with loops that we use for ‘fishing’ with a stick as the fishing pole. It’s fun and easy. And doesn’t cost any money at all to make – making it a zero dollar DIY.

Egg Carton Craft Ideas

Why use egg cartons for something like this?

I love using recycled / upcycled materials for kids craft projects because it teaches kids how to use what they have to make things, inspires creativity, and creates less waste.

Plus, the egg carton shapes are perfect shape for fish scales.

Are egg cartons safe to use for crafting projects?

Yes! I specifically like to use the soft cardboard egg cartons for crafting. I think they are the softest and easiest to manage for these types of craft ideas.

But you can use whatever type of egg cartons you already have on hand – just grab what you have from your recycling bin.

And give it a quick wash or wipe down if there is any residue that needs to be removed before starting.

There are some styrofoam and plastic egg cartons that can also be used for a craft like this.

The plastic ones likely won’t take paint as well, but it’s worth a try if that’s what you have. The foam ones would be okay to use as well – easy to paint, much like the cardboard ones.

What other things can I make with egg cartons?

So many things!

This fish project was at the top my list because I knew Hayes would like it.

But there are truly TONS of other craft projects you could try with recycled egg cartons.

There’s egg carton flowers, mushrooms, egg carton caterpillars and animals, Christmas egg carton ideas, ones for Halloween, etc.

The egg carton fish idea is high on my list because you can turn it into a regular activity once the project is all finished. ‘Catching’ the completed fish with a stick from the yard, if you tie a loop on the end of your fish.

You can even make paper out of recycled egg cartons. Or use them as starter pots for herbs or other small plants / seedlings.

Colorful fish made of egg cartons, inside a kid's wood bike basket

Child wearing white shirt, holding colorful fish made of egg cartons

Materials

  • egg cartons – We saved up a bunch of these over the course of a few weeks or a month. The number of egg cartons needed with vary drastically based on how many fish you want to make. I would say a good rule of thumb would be one egg carton per fish.
  • paint – You can use any paint you have on hand. Craft paint works great. But also acrylic paint, watercolors, and even house paint will all work as well.
  • paint brushes – Any paint brushes will do. But sometimes I like to use old toothbrushes as alternative paint brushes for kids. They’re easier to grip and cover more surface with paint / easier to use for small hands.
  • glue – I used hot glue for this project because it holds well and is fast. So, I did the glueing part myself – not the toddler. It would be something that requires adult supervision of course, if go that route. So, if you have time to wait for the glue to dry, you can just as easily use a basic school glue, like Elmers. That way the fish can be kid-made from start to finish.
  • string or yarn – Look for a strong yarn or string that’s not too thin. This is what will connect all the pieces together and create the loop at the end if you plan to hook the fish onto a door handle or use them as part of a ‘fishing’ activity with sticks.
  • scissors – Any scissors will do! Even kids safety scissors should work for cutting the egg carton materials.

Making the fish head

I found the best part of the egg carton to use for the fish head is the pointy pieces of the bottom part of the carton.

Just cut them out and flatten them a bit to make them wider if needed. I cut those off as carefully as I could, so I could still use the ‘cup’ parts for the body.

Speaking of which…

Making the fish body

The cups that the eggs sit in make a great fish body.

These pieces can also be used as the head. I did a few of each.

Just cut the cups individually from the egg carton bottom and then trim any uneven excess down if necessary.

Making the fish tail

I mostly used the pointy pieces (like the fish head) for the fish tails. And then on a few of the fish, I added some egg carton fringe.

Which was just a rectangular piece of scrap egg carton (from the top of the carton), that I cut fringe strips into and then rolled up and glued into one of the pointy egg carton pieces.

Painting small egg carton pieces in colorful, earthy paints

Painting all the pieces

Head and body pieces

I mixed a little water in with some of my paint to allow for the paint to spread quicker and easier.

And I left them all out for Hayes to paint however he wanted.

He didn’t paint all of them (there were quite a few), but he did a bunch and can pick out the pieces he painted on the finished fish. Which is cool.

I painted whatever was left. And also the insides, since some of that is visible in the completed fish.

Making and painting the eyes

I cut out larger circles and smaller circles for the eyes, from scrap pieces of the egg carton top.

I painted the larger circles white and the smaller circles dark grey / black.

And then glued the smaller pieces onto the larger ones, to create the eyes for each fish.

I used hot glue to attach the circles to one another. And then hot glue again to attached the completed eyes to the fish heads. Super easy!

Stringing it all together

Last thing that needs to be done is stringing all the pieces together.

Poke a hole through the middle of each piece (head, body, and tail) with a pair of scissors or something similar.

Then string the yarn or string through the holes, knotting as you go to keep the pieces in place. Start with the tail and then the body and then the head.

Tie a loop through the head of the fish if you want to be able to hang the fish from a door handle, on the wall, or use for the ‘fishing’ activity. And that’s it! 

Looking for more kids crafts ideas?

  • This party favor ideas for kids was a huge hit at my son’s fourth birthday. Everyone got to take one home to remember the day.
  • These rainbow clay ornaments aren’t just for the holidays. Make them year round as a fun craft for kids – party favors, door hangers, etc.
  • Here’s three Cricut gift ideas for babies/toddlers I put together. These projects are more something you would give to a kid as opposed to making it together. But they’re so cute, I had to include them. The soft baby book is one of my all time favorites!
  • Make a wooden toy car with scrap wood and a couple of power tools.

Closeup of green and blue fish made of painted egg cartons

Colorful craft fish made of egg cartons, in the back of a child's bike basket

Toddler holding colorful egg carton fish while playing outside   Child holding egg carton fish in front of him     

Egg Carton Craft Idea for Kids: How to Make Egg Carton Fish

Brittni
We've been saving up egg cartons for weeks to make some egg carton fish and Hayes loves them. We have a few in his room as decoration - hanging from the door knob and on the wall. And then we have a few more with loops that we use for 'fishing' with a stick as the fishing pole. It's fun and easy. And doesn't cost any money at all to make - making it a zero dollar DIY.
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Equipment

  • egg cartons We saved up a bunch of these over the course of a few weeks or a month. The number of egg cartons needed with vary drastically based on how many fish you want to make. I would say a good rule of thumb would be one egg carton per fish.
  • paint You can use any paint you have on hand. Craft paint works great. But also acrylic paint, watercolors, and even house paint will all work as well.
  • paint brushes Any paint brushes will do. But sometimes I like to use old toothbrushes as alternative paint brushes for kids. They're easier to grip and cover more surface with paint / easier to use for small hands.
  • glue I used hot glue for this project because it holds well and is fast. So, I did the glueing part myself - not the toddler. It would be something that requires adult supervision of course, if go that route. So, if you have time to wait for the glue to dry, you can just as easily use a basic school glue, like Elmers. That way the fish can be kid-made from start to finish.
  • string or yarn Look for a strong yarn or string that's not too thin. This is what will connect all the pieces together and create the loop at the end if you plan to hook the fish onto a door handle or use them as part of a 'fishing' activity with sticks.
  • Scissors Any scissors will do! Even kids safety scissors should work for cutting the egg carton materials.

Instructions
 

Making the fish body

  • The cups that the eggs sit in make a great fish body. These pieces can also be used as the head. I did a few of each.
  • Just cut the cups individually from the egg carton bottom and then trim any uneven excess down if necessary.

Making the fish tail

  • I mostly used the pointy pieces (like the fish head) for the fish tails. And then on a few of the fish, I added some egg carton fringe. Which was just a rectangular piece of scrap egg carton (from the top of the carton), that I cut fringe strips into and then rolled up and glued into one of the pointy egg carton pieces.

Painting all the pieces

  • Head and body pieces: I mixed a little water in with some of my paint to allow for the paint to spread quicker and easier. And I left them all out for Hayes to paint however he wanted. He didn't paint all of them (there were quite a few), but he did a bunch and can pick out the pieces he painted on the finished fish. Which is cool. I painted whatever was left. And also the insides, since some of that is visible in the completed fish.
  • Making and painting the eyes: I cut out larger circles and smaller circles for the eyes, from scrap pieces of the egg carton top. I painted the larger circles white and the smaller circles dark grey / black. And then glued the smaller pieces onto the larger ones, to create the eyes for each fish. I used hot glue to attach the circles to one another. And then hot glue again to attached the completed eyes to the fish heads. Super easy!

Stringing it all together

  • Last thing that needs to be done is stringing all the pieces together. Poke a hole through the middle of each piece (head, body, and tail) with a pair of scissors or something similar. Then string the yarn or string through the holes, knotting as you go to keep the pieces in place. Start with the tail and then the body and then the head.
  • Tie a loop through the head of the fish if you want to be able to hang the fish from a door handle, on the wall, or use for the 'fishing' activity. And that's it!

Notes

Why use egg cartons for something like this?
I love using recycled / upcycled materials for kids craft projects because it teaches kids how to use what they have to make things, inspires creativity, and creates less waste.
Plus, the egg carton shapes are perfect shape for fish scales.
What other crafts can you create with egg cartons?
So many things! This fish project was at the top my list because I knew Hayes would like it. But there are truly TONS of other craft projects you could try with recycled egg cartons.
There's egg carton flowers, mushrooms, egg carton caterpillars and animals, Christmas egg carton ideas, ones for Halloween, etc. The egg carton fish idea is high on my list because you can turn it into a regular activity once the project is all finished. 'Catching' the completed fish with a stick from the yard, if you tie a loop on the end of your fish.
Did you make this?Mention @paperandstitch or tag #paperandstitch!
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