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Naturally Educational » 0-3 (Babies and Toddlers), 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), Ecology, Science » Something’s Fishy

Something’s Fishy

Whether teaching your kids or students in the classroom, you usually have the advantage of knowing your partners in learning.  For my moms’ meet-up group, I have been organizing a weekly “Preschool Play Date”.  Today our preschool play date suddenly became a Toddler Play Date and I had to adjust our plans. The result was a fun and easy fish craft that even a toddler will enjoy.

Sea creatures are always a hit with little ones, especially if you have a decent aquarium nearby.  We’re members at ours and the children are mesmerized by underwater life even as young as one–so colorful, so different, so entrancing!


  • Paper plate
  • Scissors
  • Strong Non-Toxic Glue (we used Elmer’s Glue All)
  • Googly Eyes in two sizes
  • Materials for decorating your fish (this could be torn paper fish scales or any crayons, markers, or paints…we used Elmer’s Squeeze N’ Brush)
  • Thread or Clear Tape


  1. Decorate the paper plates. You could use squares of lightweight paper or tissue paper to represent scales.  My younger group enjoyed using the Elmer’s Squeeze N’ Brush paint pens–lots of fun!
  2. Cut a small triangle from one side of the plate to form the mouth.
  3. Glue the triangle to the other side of the plate to make the tail.
  4. Trace a small circle (a baby food jar lid works well) on a piece of poster board and cut out the circle.
  5. Cut a small triangle from one side of the circle to form the mouth.
  6. Glue the triangle to the other side of the circle to make the tail.
  7. Add large googly eyes to the plate fish and small googly eyes to the paper fish.
  8. Suspend the smaller fish from the mouth of the bigger fish with tape, fishing wire, or white thread.

Depending on your age group, you might read one (or both) of two books:

Swimmy by Leo Lionni is a good choice for toddlers and preschoolers. It is a simple tale about fish that focuses on the food chain without being overly intense. Like many of Lionni’s books, Swimmy also highlights the importance of friendship and teamwork.

Children four and up will enjoy the greater detail in  The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten: A Book About Food Chains. If you are a fan of The Magic School Bus, you are already familiar with the 70s-era psychedelia and groan-out-loud puns that permeate the series.  Whether or not you appreciate the humor, the information is scientifically accurate at an age-appropriate level. For this field trip to the beach, the eponymous bus transforms into a dolphin and dives into the ocean, exploring the symbiotic relationships among marine life and the oceanic food chain.

Teaching Extensions:

  • Field Trip: Visit your local fish hatchery or aquarium! (Brave Parent or Teacher Bonus Points: Get your own fish tank and stock it with fish of your own!)
  • Biology: What is the difference between a mammal and a fish? What are some examples of sea creatures that are fish and ones that are mammals? What do they have in common and what separates the two?
  • Ecology: What is the food chain?  How do changes to one part of the food chain effect the entire chain? How does pollution effect the food chain?
  • Economics: Beyond food sourcing, how do human beings rely on the health of our oceans and other bodies of water? Visit a seafood market, interview a fisherman, dine out at a seafood restaurant.
  • Current events: Research the connection between oil spills, the environment, and local economies.

This won’t be the last of my sea creature craft and book posts!  We have an entire library of fun sea creature books and lots of crafts to try.  I have a few octopus crafts I’m itching to make with a group of older kids (including this Water Bottle Octopus from Crafts By Amanda and a Yarn Octopus from Craft Stylish) and I’m brainstorming a possible shark craft and a hermit crab craft.

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Written by

Candace Lindemann, Yale, BA, Harvard Graduate School of Education, EdM, is an educational consultant and published writer. She enjoys new learning experiences with her children, ages 6 and 4 and 1.5.

Filed under: 0-3 (Babies and Toddlers), 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), Ecology, Science · Tags:

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