The Rainbow Fish (1st)

This drawing and painting lesson began by reading the book "The Rainbow Fish" by Marcus Pfister with my first graders (a childhood favorite of mine). There are a few different versions of this book (one is longer and one is shorter), so you can choose the one that you think would work best with your class. The book itself carries the themes of friendship and sharing, so it's a nice one to read. :)
Once we finished reading and talking about the book, students went back to their tables and we began a step-by-step rainbow fish drawing! I demoed how students could draw their fish on the board, while students drew their fish on their own paper. They could follow along with me as I drew or they could create their own version. Regardless of how they chose to approach it though, I made sure to emphasis the importance of drawing it BIG. I gave them a sheet of 9"x12" drawing paper and had them try to fill the whole page with their fish. I also emphasized the importance of drawing their fish scales BIG so that when it came time to paint, they could do each scale a different color if they wanted to.
Once their drawings were done, they outlined their line drawing with a black crayon.
The next day we began at the carpet again and looked at a variety of images of the bottom of the ocean (I got a bunch of pictures from google of coral reefs and screenshots of 'Finding Nemo'). We brainstormed a list of all the things students might find at the bottom of the ocean, then we went to work drawing their own ocean backgrounds on a sheet of 12"x14" white drawing paper with crayons. *Before they began I showed them how we were going to do a watercolor-crayon resist, so they could even draw in white crayon!
On the third and fourth days, students painted their fish and background drawings with the best paint ever - LIQUID GLITTER WATERCOLORS. Ahhhhhhh! Although you do have to spend a minute warning children of the dangers of getting this on their clothes (it won't come out) - it is SO worth it!
It isn't very often that I crack out the glitter (for obvious reasons), so the kids are crazy pumped for this! I bought a set of liquid glitter watercolors last year from the Nasco catalog and I think I may have paid like $35 for a set of 8 bottles. To prepare the paint, I squirt a splash of the liquid glitter watercolors with a splash of regular liquid watercolors and then mix with water in a 2oz souffle cup (you can add more liquid watercolor for more intense colors - although the glitter watercolors will already make your paint pretty saturated).
Finally on the last day, I have students cut out their painted fish drawings and glue 2-3 pieces of cut corrugated cardboard to the back of them. Then they add glue to the back of the cardboard pieces and attach their fish to their background painting (this creates a slight relief painting).
Once everything is done, students are ready for the last and best step - adding the single glitter scale (just like in the book)! Students are allowed to choose ONE scale to add either gold or silver glitter to.. then their work goes into the drying rack.
I love how these turned out! Very pretty!

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1 comment

  1. Beautiful! I teach a similar project, but have never thought to use glitter watercolors and cardboard for a 3D effect. Thanks for the inspiration.