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Patterned Geometric Fish

Students create beautiful patterned paper with a printmaking process and then use the paper to create fish and other sea creatures with geometric shapes.

  • Kindergarten
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. During a unit of study focused on the undersea world, students view images of beautifully colored fish and other creatures. Focus their observations on the patterns and colors that can be seen such as stripes, spots, swirls, changing colors and variable organic/camouflage patterning.
    2. During the discussion, ask children to name the colors and patterns. Also ask if they can find something in their environment that is similar (i.e. stripes on a clown fish might be the same as those on their friend’s shirt; colors on the fish might be the same as some of the toys or food they might eat – strawberry red, lemonade yellow, etc.).
    3. View and discuss images showing the colorful fish in their native habitat(s). Ask why they may choose to live in green and yellow seaweed vs. hiding in rock caves. Explain the concept of camouflage as being a way for fish to safely hide and not become someone’s dinner.
    4. Read a story that illustrates that concept under discussion. Suggested titles include Rainbow Fish by Marcus Phister or Seahorse by Eric Carle. Re-visit the illustrations in the picture books. Ask students to point out the geometric shapes that make up the fish. Help children trace those shapes with their fingers and say the name of the shape (oval body, rectangular fins, round eyes, etc.).
    5. Cover the work surface with recycled newspaper and place a small amount of Crayola® Washable Tempera Paint on paper plates along with a paint brush for each child. Provide children with colored construction paper and multiple gadgets from everyday life: bottle tops, sponges, corks, cardboard piece edges, etc. Demonstrate how to make a print by dipping the gadget into the paint and then pressing on the paper. Encourage students to practice multiple patterns using the same gadget. Comment on the patterns and shapes they are making to help build vocabulary for the children. Use multiple sheets of colored paper, gadgets and paint colors. Allow paint to dry thoroughly overnight.
    6. Revisit the images of the fish and the geometric shapes used to make the fish shape. Using Crayola Construction Paper Crayons, ask students to draw or trace cardboard geometric shapes to strengthen fine motor skills. Provide Crayola Blunt-Tip Scissors for students to cut them out.
    7. Note: The printed patterns can be distracting when drawing, so encourage the students to draw on the back, unpainted/unprinted side of the paper. Cut those shapes and put in a pile with the other students, to make a ‘shape store’ from which all children can ‘shop’ and use.
    8. Students select and assemble several shapes to create their fish. Use Crayola Glue Sticks to attach shapes to colored paper and Construction Paper Crayons to draw plants, sand, shells and other things found under the sea.
    9. Once children are satisfied that their fish and habitats are complete, these can be displayed together, with edges touching, as if they have created their own undersea mural. Provide class time to discuss why fish live in such a habitat.
  • Standards

    LA: With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

    LA: With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

    LA: Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.

    LA: Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.

    MATH: Identify and describe shapes.

    MATH: Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.

    SCI: Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

    SCI: Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.

    VA: Students will demonstrate the ability to generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

    VA: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

    VA: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.

    VA: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.

  • Adaptations

    Working in small groups, encourage students to glue all of their fish onto one large sheet of blue paper and make a larger class mural.

    Organize a field trip to an aquarium or set up a classroom aquarium.

    Invite a community member who is an expert on fish and their habitats to speak with the class about life underwater.


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