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Leader of the School

Build classroom community. Promote teamwork. Encourage leadership skills with Swimmy’s exciting story and lush ocean art.

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Read Swimmy by Leo Lionni to the class as a read aloud. Invite students to imagine the beautiful colors and creatures of the ocean. What made Swimmy the leader of his school? How could you be more like Swimmy? Allow time for discussion.
    2. Here’s a project that can be done as a class mural or in small groups. Students begin by sponge painting the ocean on a large piece of craft paper. Students cover their work area with recycled newspaper. Using a paint brush, students wet heavy paper with water.
    3. Students place a few drops of water into each Crayola Washable Watercolor pan. Dip a sponge into a color and sponge it across the paper. Encourage students to use their imaginations to choose more ocean colors to add to the scene. Air-dry the background.
    4. Students design the fish to swim in the art scene. In the ocean, sketch a large fish with Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils.
    5. Draw a small fish on a sponge. Cut out the fish with Crayola Scissors.
    6. Place red (or any color) Crayola Washable Paint in a recycled produce tray. Dip the sponge fish into the paint. Fill the large fish outline with many sponged red fish. Leave a space where the eye would be for Swimmy. Print him with black paint. Air-dry paintings.
    7. Erase any extra colored pencil marks.
    8. Provide opportunities for students to retell Swimmy’s story to younger children, or to compose a story of their own.
  • Standards

    LA: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

    LA: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

    LA: By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly

    LA: Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

    LA: With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace

    SCI: Use evidence about organisms in their natural habitats to design an artificial habitat in which the organisms can survive well.*

    SCI: Analyze and interpret data about changes in the environment of different areas and describe how the changes may affect the organisms that live in the areas.

    SS: Explore causes, consequences, and possible solutions to persistent, contemporary, and emerging global issues, such as pollution and endangered species.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Organize a field trip to a local aquarium in order to provide a first-hand experience with fish in a natural habitat. Prior to the trip, students discuss questions that they have about ocean life and a healthy habitat for fish. After the visit students will post learning to a class blog and/or collaborate in small groups to share learning from the experience.

    Students research the parts of a fish. Encourage students to sketch the outline of a fish and label all significant parts. Students may also include the function of each part of the organism.

    Working in small groups, students compose an original story about a fish in its natural habitat. Students may also sketch significant scenes in the story. Be prepared to present the story to classmates.

    Students research ocean habitats that have become unhealthy for fish to continue to exist. What happened to the environment? What can be done to make it healthy again? Have any new life forms moved into the area? If so, why are these thriving? Students draw sketches of the unhealthy environment and how it should look when it again becomes healthy.

    Encourage students to read other Leo Lionni books. Investigate his writing and illustration styles. Create a bulletin board to share what they find.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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