Nowruz Paper Goldfish {Tutorial}

ACraftyArab Nowruz Paper GoldfishNowruz ( نوروزmeans “new day” in Persian) is the Iranian New Year. While there are some that view it as a religious event it is more commonly known as a secular holiday, celebrated by family and friends.

Nowruz occurs on the first day of spring, the vernal equinox, usually around March 21st. This begins the first day of the first month of the Persian calendar, Farvardin (فروردین in Persian).

To celebrate, people gather around a  Haft-sin table and await for an exact moment to celebrate the New Year. Items on the Half-sin table begin with the letter sin (س‎) and we have a made a few of them here: garlic, olives, apples.

An optional item for the table include goldfish, which represent life, and also the month of Pisces. Sadly a large number of goldfish are killed after Nowruz from families releasing them into nature.  Goldfish are a domesticated pet & many do not survive on their own and this is a large problem in Tehran.

Recently, to help shift the importance of adding a goldfish to the Half-Sin table, President Hassan Rohani delivered a Norouz message beside an orange in a fishbowl in lieu of a goldfish.

Hassan Rohani orange

I created a paper goldfish that I hope parents, educators and activities will help share so that kids can make their own goldfish.

Once the holiday is over, the paper can be recycled!


Gold card stock paper
Needle and thread

ACraftyArab Nowruz Paper Goldfish1

I printed out the design at the bottom of this post on gold paper. My daughter cut out the main fish body outline, plus the tail and two fins. She didn’t cut any of the solid lines inside the fish body, they are guides for where to glue.

ACraftyArab Nowruz Paper Goldfish2

She added a dab of glue to the back of the tab on one side of the fish body and linked it to the little line to the other side.

ACraftyArab Nowruz Paper Goldfish3

While she waited for the glue to dry, she cut the line on the tail and then folded each side in the opposite direction, on the dotted lines. She also folded over the fins on the dotted lines.

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Now that the fish was dry, she added thread to her needed, made her to secure one end with a large knot and sewed it through all the little round ends of one side of the fish body. Make sure they are stacked, one on top of the other, in one direction. This will create the round shape.

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After pulling the needle through all the round ends, my daughter added a dap of glue between them to help hold the fish body shape. She made sure to leave extra thread for hanging the  goldfish.

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She sewed and glued the other end closed as well. Then glued on the tail and fins.

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Now her goldfish was done and ready to be enjoyed.

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Print out your goldfish here, and be sure to stop by other tutorials that teach about the Middle East on A Crafty Arab Pinterest.

ACraftyArab Nowruz Paper Goldfish Pin

Arabesque Paneled Fish {Tutorial} plus Arabic Stories {Book Review}

I recently received the book Arabic Stories for Language Learners: Traditional Middle Eastern Tales In Arabic and English, that includes an audio CD, from Tuttle Publishing.

This book is a collection of sixty-six traditional Middle Eastern tales. Each one is written in both in Arabic and English, on parallel pages, so anyone can follow along for easy learning of the language.

Some of the stories have a moral outcome, while others make light of a situation. The tales are full of narratives that include everyday people and also ones specific to Islamic culture.

What I found most helpful was the CD that was included with the book. I discovered myself listening to it mostly in the car, since I did not need the book to follow along.

My daughter was with me while we listened to the story of Fish Is Sold Herd and we both thought it was very funny how the fish seller was trying to post his fish sign. Everyone had their opinion to share with him about how it was done, so he just eventually ended up with no sign at all.

My daughter thought that maybe he needed a sign with no words, so she and I created a fish sign for the seller to use.


  • Card stock
  • Double sided tape
  • Xacto
  • Pen
  • Ruler
  • Beige card stock

My daughter started by drawing a fish silhouette. Since it was to be used as a sign, she tried to use up the entire page for the body.

She set aside her fish and started cutting the arabesque paper into one inch stripes.

After she had a number of pieces cut, she decided on a color scheme.

My daughter then cut the panels of paper to fit the outline of the fish with the Xacto.

Once the panels were cut out, she used the double sided tape to add them to the beige card stock.

This is what our completed fish looked like.

We placed into a frame to enjoy it longer.

Be sure to check out Arabic Stories for Language Learners: Traditional Middle Eastern Tales In Arabic and English to enjoy more Arab stories. Also, check out the Saudi Arabia Creamy Tomato and Chickpea Soup {Recipe} we made from another favorite book from Tuttle Publishing: The Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj, Delicious Homestyle Middle Eastern Cooking

Visit A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more tutorials that were inspired by books we love to read in our home.

Arabic English Handy Review Book {Tutorial} Plus Hands Around the Library {Review}

We made these hand(y) review books for Hands Around the Library by Karen Leggett Abouraya with beautiful collage illustrations by Susan L. Roth, as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day.

The story is about former children librarian Shaimaa Saad and library director, Ismail Serageldin, in February 2011, during the Egyptian upraising.

They both worked at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria, Egypt. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is trilingual, containing books in Classical Arabic, English, and French.

At the time, people were very unhappy with the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. They held rallies, demonstrations and parades to voice their concerns.

The library staff was worried, since the library has been destroyed before. But on this day, people from within the parade broke out of the demonstrations and linked hands on the steps to protect the building.

The pages are stunning, showcasing different aspects of Egyptian style, including colorful quilts, hijbas and the clothing of the Muslims & Christians who held hands.

The back of the book contains a double-page photo spread with more information of the uprising and the library itself. There is a resource page, which I loved, since it included the Arabic words shown on the protest signs.

My favorite page was hands holding the Egyptian flag that was opened on the library steps.

This gave my daughter and I the inspiration to make these handy review books, to write down what we think about a book.


  • Various colored card stock
  • Corner punch
  • Glue stick
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Stapler

My daughter started to make the review book by drawing an outline of her hand

She added a rectangular tab, for the staples later.

Next, my daughter cut out the hand. She used this hand to cut out as a template to make several others from different colors.

After all the hands were cut, she cut out all the tags for inside the review book. I typed them both up for her, in Arabic and English:

  • TITLE OF BOOK / عنوان الكتاب
  • THEME / موضوع الكتاب
  • AUTHOR / مؤلف
  • SETTING / إعداد
  • FAVORITE EVENT / حدث المفضل
  • RATING / تقييم

She made all the corners round on the slips of paper to make it look nicer.

To add them to the hands, my daughter added glue to the back of the pieces of paper and centered them on the hands.

The final step is to staple all the hands to each other.

We made a review book in English.

We also made a review book in Arabic. We made sure to start the book in the opposite direction and added our staples accordingly.

If you want to save some time, you can make the English and Arabic into one review book. Just start the English from one side and the Arabic from the other.

If you enjoyed making this handy craft, check out these others:

Be sure to stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more tutorials that teach about the Arab world.