I was commissioned to make an art activity page for an education package with the Public Broadcasting Service in America. They have a teachers blog (PBS Learning Media) for the public schools to encourage engagment with the documentaries. They were showing the award winning and absolutely stunning “Ireland’s Wild Coast” and wanted an art/wildlife activity to compliment it.

I chose to take a shark theme and make a little paper cut out activity., this is how it went:

Sharks are beautiful and mysterious creatures. Blue Sharks have large eyes that scan the sea for food, and they swim gracefully and slowly through the ocean.

When you look at video footage of the Blue sharks swimming [PBS’s Ireland’s Wild Coast has some mesmerising shots of a Blue Shark] take a moment to tune in to the silence and beauty of the shark.

I work as an illustrator, and when I draw animals and plants, I tune into my subject before I start. Sometimes I let my mind wander and imagine what it’s like to be them, and what they might say to me if we were able to talk to each other. When you tune in to what you are drawing you leave yourself behind a little and capture the energy of what you are drawing. For me, drawing is like a meditation, and I do my best to turn off the thinking side of my brain and instead, go with the flow of the drawing and see what happens.

If you get a chance, try drawing outside in nature every so often. It’s a very nourishing and grounding activity, and I find my drawings always turn out so much better outdoors!

Here is a simple and fun activity for the classroom where you can make some paper sharks to play with.

Paper Puppet Shark Classroom Activity

Have some fun drawing sharks, don’t worry about making them too perfect. Imagine what it would be like to swim with them today – what would you like to encounter as you make your way through the ocean – do they want to see a million little tasty fishes, beautiful sea plants, a mermaid, or a sunken ship with treasures?

Blue Sharks like to swim in small groups so you could draw a few more sharks to be friends with your first one.

To make a paper puppet shark, you will need some paper or card, some coloured pencils or crayons, a scissors, some wooden sticks or straws, sticky tape (to attach the sticks or straws) and some paper fasteners (for the joints).

If we want our shark to move we will add a paper fastener in the break where the movement will occur –  there will be one break in the tail so we need to draw him with an extra long back and draw a separate part for his mouth (see diagram).



We will cut along the back, make a little overlap and fasten with a paper fastener to give him a back wiggle – we should draw the back a little longer than usual to allow for the cut and overlap. For the mouth that opens, we can make a separate piece and attach later with a paper fastener (see diagram). You can use my image as a guideline for your own drawings. The shark glides through the water swishing his tail behind him, so we are making a simple version of that swish here. Attach the wooden sticks (ice lolly sticks or coffee stirrers work well), or straws, to the back  of the shark with sticky tape, to allow you to move the shark.


Why not make some seaweed, waves, and sea plants to go along with your sharks. I also made some sharks that just glide by (see gif at top of page). Experiment with different sea creatures and enjoy making a little underwater world!