Make your own coral reef

Make your own coral reef
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Coding Critters Ranger & Zip are in Australia. They had an amazing time zooming around this huge country and learning new things. Their favourite discovery was the Great Barrier Reef, so we’re going to learn how to build your own coral reef and some amazing creatures to live there.

colourful coral reef with many fishes and sea turtle
Image: Getty

How to make your own coral reef

Did you know that a coral reef is made up of lots of animals called corals? They gather to make incredible shapes and create lots of safe spaces for other animals to live in.

You can’t take coral reefs out of the sea because they’re endangered, but you can make your own reef at home.

What you’ll need to make your coral reef:

  • Thick craft wire
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Paint in colours of your choice. Older children may be able to use spray paints.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, use the craft wire to make a base shape that looks like one of the corals in the photo above. 
  2. Mix up some salt dough. Combine a cup of flour with a cup of salt then gradually add water until your mixture reaches a clay-like consistency. 
  3. Cover the wire frame you made earlier with your mixture. You can poke holes in it to create texture.
  4. Ask an adult to help bake the coral shape in an oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 
  5. Remove from the oven and let it cool, then paint in a colour of your choice. Experiment with different colours to create your own coral reef! 

Now make some sea creatures to live in your coral reef

The Great Barrier Reef is enormous. It’s so big that you can see it from space! It’s home to all sorts of marine life, from tiny sea slugs to giant clams. Here are some of the creatures you can make to live in your new coral reef.

Clown fish

Two Ocellaris clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) anda blue sea anemone
Image: Getty

Have you seen Finding Nemo? Clown fish love coral reefs! They have orange bodies with three white stripes. They are quite tiny, only reaching 11cm long on average. 

What you’ll need to make a clown fish:

  • Two paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Black paint
  • Orange paint
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes

Step-by-step instructions: 

  1. Take a paper plate and paint three white stripes with black edges. Fill the rest in orange. This is the Clown Fish’s body.
  2. You can make fins using the rim of another paper plate. Cut all the way around the rim, then cut into three fin-like shapes.
  3. Paint the fins orange with a black edge then glue them onto the top part of the Clown Fish’s body.
  4. On one end, cut out a mouth and stick on a google eye!

Stingray

Pair of Stingrays swimming in the shallow waters of Shark Bay, Heron Island, Australia.
Image: Getty

Stingrays are quite unusual because they have no bones. Their skeletons are made from cartilage, which is the bendy stuff your ears are made of. They protect themselves with venomous spines on their tail, so don’t get too close.

What you’ll need to make a stingray: 

  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • A4 sheet of card
  • Paints in a variety of colours
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes

Step-by-step instructions: 

Paint a paper plate in a colour you like. Stingrays come in lots of different colours and sometimes they have spots too, like the one in the photo above. 

  1. Cut out a nice long tail from some card and paint that the same colour.
  2. Glue the tail onto the plate so it looks like the stingray above.
  3. Glue on two google eyes. 
  4. Experiment with different colours!

Crabs

Christmas Island is a small territory of Australia located in the Indian Ocean.
Image: Getty

Ranger & Zip saw lots of crabs at the Great Barrier Reef. Crabs all have a horny shell to protect them from predators. They are often nocturnal, which means they are active at night and sleep during the day, usually burying themselves in the sand! 

What you’ll need to make a crab:

  • One paper plate
  • Scissors
  • A4 sheet of card
  • Orange paint
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Paint a paper plate orange, then fold it in half. This will form your crab’s body. 
  2. Take some orange card and cut out four small legs. If you don’t have orange card, you can paint your card orange.  
  3. Glue two on the bottom left corner of the body, and two on the bottom right. 
  4. Take some more orange card and cut out two pincers! 
  5. Glue one pincer to the top left of the body and one to the top right of the body.
  6. Finally, cut out two more leg-sized bits of orange card for the eyestalks. Glue on googly eyes to the eyestalks, then glue the stalks to the top of the body. 

Ranger & Zip loved the Great Barrier Reef, and they hope you enjoy recreating it at home. Why not send us photos of your coral reefs? You can share your photos with us on Facebook or Instagram.

Don’t forget to check our Instagram account for the next Coding Critters World Adventure or take a look at the previous adventures on our Coding Critters World Adventures Stories page. Do you like learning about animals? Check out Rumble & Bumble’s adventure and the 10 incredible animals you’ll see in Mozambique.