Recycled Coral Reef

 

The Brilliant Deep tells the true story of how one man's determination and love of the ocean led to a successful rebuilding program: The Coral Restoration Foundation.  While the story is fascinating, the illustrations are absolutely mesmerizing.  Matthew Forsythe's use of color and light successfully capture the magic of this mysterious underwater world and, if you're anything like me, might leave you wondering where you can take scuba lessons in central Indiana. 

Alas, I remain as landlocked as ever, so I decided to try to recreate some coral reef magic with a few recycled materials, some paint, and my handy glue gun.

Materials:

  • Recycled cardboard (paper tubes, egg cartons, box lids...)
  • Paper coffee filters
  • Scissors
  • Tempera paint
  • Paint brush
  • Liquid watercolor (or food coloring)
  • Glue gun (for adult use)

I'll tell you how we created our coral reef, but the fun of this project is the open-ended nature of it... let inspiration lead the way!

Steps:

1.  Gather supplies and observe pictures of coral reefs

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2.  Cut down and around cardboard tubes for interesting swirls:

3.  Dye your coffee filters in stacks by dipping the edges in bowls of colored water (we used liquid watercolor, but food coloring would work as well.)

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4.  Let dry before peeling apart the individual filters

 This is such an easy way to dye lots of filters at one time, and it's very cool to observe the filters soaking up the colored water.

This is such an easy way to dye lots of filters at one time, and it's very cool to observe the filters soaking up the colored water.

5. Cut apart egg cartons and snip ends of paper tubes. 

6.  Stack and clump all your cardboard creations as desired on a cardboard surface.  We used the lid of a shoe box.

7.  Hot glue!

8.  Paint or color as desired

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9.  Stack and twist together dried coffee filters and glue in place

There is seriously no wrong way to do this project... cut it up, glue it on, and paint!  I think this would be such a fun collaborative classroom project- the bigger the better!

 
Anna Harpe