Then it hit me. Instead of construction paper cut outs, why not use paint to create their hand prints? The difference was such fun, and I loved how the little lines and swirls of their skin were captured too, and not only the size of their hands.
First we painted our hands using regular children's craft paints. NOT finger paints.
We made four hand prints per child, and set them aside.
After we'd washed up, we cut out a large oval from construction paper to be the body of our fish. We added a googly eye, cut out a space for his mouth, and then let the kids decorate however they wanted. Mine chose to just use their markers, but you could fancy up the fish with sequins, glitter, or stickers too.
By the time we had finished decorating the fish's body, our paint was dry. Then we cut them out. (I did the cutting for my 4 year old. He is good with scissors, but since hand prints don't have a definite edge, and have gaps where you don't want to be cutting, I did it to avoid tears.)