Art There Something Fishy Here?

Using Art to Remember Science

We had been doing a Lapbook Lesson from the children’s literature on ‘Swimmy’ by Leo Lionni. (For my Free Lapbook Resource on another storybook, click Here.) This was one of the Hands On session where the kids used real fish to do their fish prints. It was also an opportunity to let them recall and apply their knowledge by touching the different external anatomy of the fish. Here the kids learnt the scientific terms of the external fish parts while applying paint over it. ( Read on my post to ArtsEdge website for worksheets of Fish Anatomy)



Fish Printing Art

The fish was simply rinsed thoroughly and left uncut in order to have the full body volume for an effective print. This is as opposed to cleaning out all the intestines which results in a wobbly and tough to handle flimsy fish.

Materials used for our Fish Printing Art:

  1. Fish (I got Selar fish which was on sale from the supermarket)
  2. Cardboard to place the fish to paint it
  3. Plastic sheet to cover the table/ newspapers
  4. Drawing papers for printing
  5. Acrylic Paint
  6. Sponge ( so that I can throw away after using instead of throwing a brush away)



Background Ocean Painting

They also did their Ocean background by painting over a plastic with tempura paint. After they are done with their plastic painting, they place the paper and press it against the plastic paint to ‘print’.

This results in an ‘ocean waves’ effect when the plastic is lifted up from the paper. The beauty lies in how each person creates their own unique backgrounds through this method. They also choose to use 2 colours of one colour for their background.

Materials for Ocean Print

  1. Tempura Paint / Poster paint / Water Colour
  2.  Paintbrushes
  3. A sheet of plastic with the same size of your paper



This is not the final product. Stay tuned for their complete works!



This idea was entirely my own without reference from elsewhere. It was a small part of my lapbook lesson that I’ve included for hands on science cum art learning. Due to limitation of time, this fish printing activity was a fresh experiment done without research. It was only after I decided to blog on this activity that I decided to do some research on this method. And I was surprised to find out this is a traditional form of Art from the Japanese!

Guess what? I also stumbled upon this awesome website teaching step by step the Art of Fish Printing! If you’re into the full works of Gyotaku Japanese Fish Painting, ARTSEDGE – step by step guide is the way to follow! As my lesson was purely experimental, it didn’t occur to me to do my research on this type of printing. I would’ve followed the cleaning process and printing techniques shared by Artsedge. Oh well, all’s not lost. I am very happy to learn from this experience! : ) Not only did I learn the Art of Fish Printing, I also learnt the Science of Art Printing from the above website.

In fact, I am excited to introduce this term Gyotaku (gyo = fish, taku = rubbing) and give them a brief history of this art form to my kids in their next lesson for recap.

The beauty of sharing via blogging? I find myself growing so much in my teaching and learning! I grow a lot learning from others too. I had shared in my Facebook page on a lesson learnt. I like a phrase that one of my readers’ had mentioned good to have- A Growing Mindset.  Not just growing hearts. : )

Another practical way to reinforce our Swimmy lapbook learning? Going to a supermarket to buy their own fish, clean it and cook a dish out of it! : )

How has Your mindset grown recently?

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Family Fun Friday

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