I'm pretty sure I could be happy doing "fish" art projects as a total unit for a whole year!! There are just so many options for kids!! The fact that I had A TON of painted papers and yarn on hand was the deciding factor for making these fish:))
Oops -- I forgot to rotate this!!
I first saw this cool art at the Lone Tree Community Schools site on Artsonia and knew we had to give it a try. (See their artwork here.) Our first graders began by viewing Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert and discussing what a fish skeleton looks like.
We also took a look at Ehlert's book, The Scraps Book, that tells a lot about her life and her methods of approaching writing a book. GREAT RESOURCE!!!
Students started with 2 pre-cut rectangles of painted paper (2" X 3"). I demonstrated how to cut a large triangle from the rectangle by marking halfway down one long side and cutting diagonally from there to each opposing corner. That way we ended up with triangles that were proportionally large enough for the size of our over-all art (9" X 12" black board).
They glued their yarn to connect the head to the tail and then added fish bones above and below the yarn. I demonstrated starting with 3 "bone" rectangles, laying them out (spacing from head to tail) and then cutting them in the middle to put on either side of the yarn (this was a chance to practice math, ie. "With your fingers, show how many bones we have now.") I then cut each of the six pieces lengthwise to make the bones skinnier, "Show how many bones we have now." Asking kids to start with a limited number of papers prevents the mad grab for far more than they will ever have time to use!!!
Some trimmed their bones to be shorter near the tail fin and some followed my lead and cut their "bone" papers thinner to make skinny bones. This was a GREAT opportunity to practice cutting skills and gave me the chance to circulate and help with how to hold the scissors correctly. Also, it's a good project for perfecting "a dot is a lot" with the glue.
We talked about the placement of the fish on the paper, too. Some fish appear to be swimming to the water's surface, others appear to be diving down and some are just "swimming" straight ahead. This was a time to reinforce vocabulary (vertical, horizontal and diagonal).
I like the variety of the bone placement. Those who had curved their yarn to make leaping fish had the extra challenge of figuring out how to place the bones and make them fit!! This project took us one period (50 -60 min.) to do.