Sunday, February 26, 2012

How to Make a Rainbow Fish

I'm starting a new "artist in residence" program tomorrow.  I've been busy sourcing supplies, making samples, PowerPoint's, etc all while finishing off projects at my other school...whew!

One of the projects we will be doing is mixed media Rainbow Fish in Kindergarten.

March seems to be "Rainbow Fish" month for many Kinders out there.  It all starts by reading Marcus Pfister's book "The Rainbow Fish". 


- corrugated cardboard
- Dry Dek or drywall compound
- toothpick, spoon
- liquid tempera paint
- clear gems
- shell
- glitter glue
- sequins
- Aleene's Tacky glue
- black sharpie
- Mod Podge, optional


I drew out a Rainbow Fish shape on corrugated cardboard and then used it as a template to trace out.....oh 40 more.

Cut out.

Have the kids spread Dry Dek or regular drywall compound over the cardboard.  It's kinda like icing a cookie.

You want enough to be able to add some texture.

Using a toothpick draw some lines in the tail and fins.

Then using a spoon you can make some scale depressions.  You can also just use your finger.  The compound is a bit sticky so you might need a tissue or 2.

Start at the tail and work your way back.  Leave some area plain for the face.

Let the drywall compound set, about 8 hrs. or so.

Meanwhile you can paint your shell, this is the special scale, silver.

You can then add some glitter glue to make it really sparkle.

When your fish is dry paint with liquid tempera.  Bright colors work best.

To make the fish eye I found these glass gems at the Dollar Store, you know the decorative ones for vases.

They have a flat side to them.

Trace around one and then add a black circle (pupil) with sharpie or marker.

Cut out and glue or tape to the bottom.  I used Mod Podge but any acrylic medium would also work.
Glue into place on the fish with tacky glue.

Glue the special scale (the shell) into place as well.

You can add lips at this time as well with marker or sharpie.

Paint in for some color.

You can then add a few large sequins for some extra sparkle.  You know those Kinders, gotta have some bling.

Finally you can seal the whole thing with some Mod Podge for a nice glossy finish and you're done.

To hang on the bulletin board attach a wire loop to the back with some duct tape and then hang with push pins or thumbtacks.

That's it.

Some other fishy projects you might want to try:




See you soon.


  1. This is a great project for my 1/2s to do after their 4 day visit to Ralph Klein Eco-Action Centre. We'll study the fish that are found in our area and use our research to guide our painting. What a great addition to our "We all live upstream from somebody else" study.

    Mrs. Webb @ Cranston School

  2. Thank you for sharing!! I'll try it, with my little stars (my students)!!!It is wonderful!!kisses.

  3. Great project, and I especially love the fish eyes. I was just wondering if the modeling compound is non-toxic for kinders.

  4. Hey Renee,
    The main concern about drywall compound is if you were to sand it and inhale the dust. Repeated inhalation of the fine dust may lead to problems. I checked the spec sheet sheet and there doesn't seem to be any other concerns. Hope that helps.

  5. I stumbled upon your blog while searching for glass gems how-tos.....and I'm mezmorized. Loving everything I see! As a 13 year fine arts teacher and small business jewelry designer, I will be stopping by often. Keep up the good work!!

  6. Drywall spackle has all kinds of warnings on it. It is not safe for children to use.

    1. Drywall is safe to use with kids 5 years and older, (Kinders and up). I have used it many times. The drywall filler I use has the following warnings. First off the concern is with the container. It is a large bucket and you are advised not to reuse the container with a liquid, a small child might fall and potentially drown. I do not reuse the container. The second warning is with regard to inhaling the dust when the filler is sanded. If you use it to fill holes and joints when drywalling you do sand this product and you would wear a mask. I do not sand this product when I use it in art class. The last warning is that it is not an edible product, I work with kids that are 5 years and older and again this is not an issue. I advise them not to eat the product just like we don't eat glue, paint, plaster, concrete, and other mediums we use in the art room.

  7. Because of my allergies is there something like paper mache paste that would work?

    1. Hi Susan,
      I'm sure you could use paper clay or thick paper mache paste.

    2. Thanks I love this for a lesson on texture and pattern

  8. I'm the Editor of Fun Family Crafts and wanted to let you know that we have featured your awesome rainbow fish! You can see it here:

    Thanks for another great project idea!