Unknown.jpegThe Rainbow Fish is a children’s book drawn and written by Marcus Pfister, Swiss author and illustrator, and translated into English by J. Alison James. The book is best known for its morals about the value of being an individual and for the distinctive shiny foil scales of Rainbow Fish.

This is a delightful project that is suitable for grades 1-4! It is a lesson I used on Read In day at school. It is a great cross curriculum lesson for reading, science, and art professions!


  • Diffusing paper *Note: this is very much like coffee filters, so if you want to experiment using large size coffee filters it may be an inexpensive alternative. I get this paper from Blick Art supplies.
  • Black Permanent Markers Fine tip
  • Construction paper crayons (they are brighter than regular crayons.
  • Liquid watercolor *Note: I have substituted food coloring in a pinch, but I am not sure if it fades over time.
  • Shiny paper


  1. Read the story of Rainbow Fish together and talk about the important lessons regarding friendship and sharing with others
  2. I spent one 45 minute class period have students follow a step-by-step demonstration for drawing a fish. We talked about the anatomy of a fish and then started our drawing using a large oval shape for the body. Together we identified the various shapes that make up the eyes, scales, fins, etc. Make sure the drawing is rather large. When finished trace over line with black permanent marker.
  3. Color your fish and color each scale individually. Make it colorful!!! Add other water features such as seaweed, coral, other fish, etc.
  4. Lay a waterproof mat under your paper and apply blue, green, and violet liquid water color. Colors will “bleed” which creates a watery effect. Do not lay too many colors on top of each other or it will turn “muddy”.
  5. Allow to dry and apply the shiny scale and you are ready to frame your beautiful work of art!