Sebastian knows. The seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake—especially when you’ve got a house full of kiddos with full-fledged cabin fever. So the next time a maelstrom of preschool boredom descends on your house, stay at home and transform your living room into Captain Nemo’s paradise cove. Read on for nine ways to nail an afternoon with your favorite narwhals.

Japanese Flying Carp

Photo: Squirrelly Minds

1. Colorful Fish
What can’t be solved with an empty toilet paper roll, some tissue paper, and a glue stick, we ask? Whatever it is, we haven’t figured it out yet. And if it’s an underwater playscape you’re after, then gather your cardboard rolls while you can and get gluing, because these fun fish—particularly when grouped together in a school and hung from a fireplace mantle—are indeed the jam. Find out how Squirrelly Minds masterminded these funky fish here.


Photo: Honey & Fitz

2. Bubble Balloons
When you’re a kid, is there really anything more entertaining than playing with balloons? Sure there is. Tell them they’re underwater and the balloons are air bubbles. Watch. Repeat. Hours-o-fun. Or maybe amp up the excitement by stringing helium filled balloons in patterns on twine. They’ll love the project, and the effect of linear bubbles rising from your coffee table with make you want to challenge Ariel to a karaoke contest.

Treasure Rocks

Photo: Meme Tales 

3. Treasure Rocks
You’ve spent all morning transforming your family room into the deep blue sea. You’ve laughed. You’ve (hopefully not) cried. You’ve done all you can do and they still. want. more. Enter the Treasure Rocks. Because we all know that every sea floor is littered with golden doubloons and priceless gems, right? And what better way to spend the rest of the day than by decorating, then hiding, then seeking, some treasure. Check out how Meme Tales makes the magic happen.

jolly jellyfish craft activity

Photo: Learning Ideas Grades K-8

4. Recycled Materials Jellyfish
How cool are these little non-polyp critters that have been around for at least 500 million years? And with the myriad of ways you and your bitty biologists can replicate their images at home, you’ll be glad to see them dangling from you ceiling for as long as your underwater adventure endures. Try using recycled materials and bubble wrap, like Learning Ideas does here, for creating schools of them—or add a punch of color with these cool coffee filter jellies by Life with Moore Babies.

fish portal

Photo: Misadventures of a YA Librarian

5. Couch Cushion Portal Windows
When you’re transforming your living room into an underwater garden, what do you do with the couch? Turn it into a submarine, of course! With a few adjustments to your couch cushions and the addition of these awesome underwater portal windows, you’ll be cruising the seven seas in style (and comfort). Check out Misadventures of a YA Librarian for the tutorial.

Saltdough Starfish

Photo: Desperate Craftwives

6. Salt Dough Starfish
Blythe at Desperate Craftwives doesn’t need miles of caribbean sand to bring home a bucket of starfish. With a little flour, salt, water, and a toothpick, she’s cracked the code for all those landlubbers trying to add a little nautical into their lives. Best of all? Little hands will love mixing and forming the starfish found in her recipe here


Bubble Wrap Window Fish

Photo: Coco

7. Stained Glass Bubble Fish
Alert! Alert! Sensory fun ahead! Fish that unused (yet un-thrown-away) leftover holiday bubble wrap out of the garage and turn it over to the professionals. With nothing but some paint, a few simple fish shapes, and a window, your school of fish will be happily painting and taping, taping and painting all afternoon long. See how Coco uses a few basic household items in her pictorial tutorial here to turn bubble wrap into something spectacular.

Overhead Jet Stream

Photo: Completely Kindergarten

8. Bubble Wrap Jet Stream
Anyone who’s seen Finding Nemo knows that the Jet Stream is where all the cool turtles cruise. Using nothing but a roll of bubble wrap and a few construction paper turtle silhouettes, the folks at Completely Kindergarten make the ceiling come alive. Find out how they did it here.

Cup Coral

Photo: Matthew Parker Events

9. Recycled Cup Coral
A trip to any water cooler will reward those who seek with a cache of plastic cups that are just begging for reincarnation as living room coral. Using any available paint and spray adhesive, these crazy towers in bold, brilliant colors will steal the underwater show. Just stack, spray, and paint!

How do you make a splash with the kiddos from your own living room? Tell us in the comments section below!

—Shelley Massey