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Fun with Fish Prints

written by: JenniferB • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/5/2012

Fish prints are a fun way to combine art with a bit of biology. Discover how to carry out this fun activity in a classroom of any age!

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    Getting Started

    This fish craft is simple to do, yet creates a great finished product. Read an age appropriate book with your class on fish and then participate in this fun project!

    Lesson Plan Title: Fish Prints

    Age: K-12 (or even older!)

    Duration: 30-45 minutes

    Discipline: Art, with possible extended lesson on basic fish anatomy

    Materials: Fresh dead fish of any species/size (from the grocery store, local bait shop, or a local river or lake if you happen to enjoy fishing!)

    Print ink (available at arts and crafts stores)

    Paper (size depends on fish)

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    Introduction

    You can introduce this lesson by activating your students prior knowledge about fish. Consider asking them the following questions:

    • Have you ever gone fishing?
    • What kinds of fish live in the local rivers/lakes?
    • What kinds of important body parts do fish have?

    Once your students are engaged in thinking about fish, it is time to start the art project. Be sure that your work area has a plastic table cloth, or is a surface that can be easily cleaned. Make sure that students are wearing smocks or clothes that are not going to get ruined if ink gets on them.

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    Instructions

    The following are step-by-step instructions for making a fish print.

    1) Spread a small layer of ink (any color) onto a plastic tray that is big enough area to hold the fish

    2) Place one side of the fish into the ink, covering the entire side of the fish with ink.

    3) Remove the fish from the ink, and place the fish on a piece of white paper. Firmly press down on the fish to transfer the ink to the paper. Hold for 30 seconds.

    4) Carefully lift the fish from the piece of paper without sliding the fish across the paper to avoid smearing the print.

    5) Allow the print to dry for 5 minutes.

    6) If you wish, add the common name and/or scientific name of the fish beneath the print using markers, colored pencil or a calligraphy pen.

    Once it is dry, you will have a simple, yet beautiful, ink print of a fish. Depending on the fish, the eyes, scales, gills and fins should be distinctly outlined, creating an artsy representation of a local fish.

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    Optional Extension: Fish Anatomy

    As an optional extension, use the dead fish (one without ink!) to review the basic anatomy of a fish. Students of all ages will enjoy identifying the basic structures and shapes including gills, dorsal fin, anal fins, pectoral fins, caudal fins, eye and mouth positions and overall body shape. Ask your students to predict the lifestyle of the fish (where it lives and what it eats) based upon these shapes and structures. What a great way to connect anatomy with art!