Rainbow Fish Book Study

If you haven’t heard of it, “The Rainbow Fish” is a best selling book with an adorable message- sharing and friendship are worth more than possessions and outward appearance. I always read this story to my students the first day of school, discussed how important sharing and kindness are in our classroom and the world, then shared “scales” (ie. pale blue iridescent sequins) with them that they could keep. To my delight I later learned Marcus Pfister has written several other books starring Rainbow Fish that have equally darling messages, so I thought it would be fun to do a book study around the set. Don’t forget to swim over to my toddler post “Rainbow Fish” for lots of fishy and rainbow inspired ideas like tie dying rainbow t-shirts, rainbow scratch art and making Rainbow Fish with tissue paper scales (and of course one sequin!)

Literacy: Each day we read one of the Rainbow Fish books and I asked my little what the author’s message was. I wrote what he said on a T-chart on our chalkboard (you could also do this on chart paper or a sheet of paper).

-F is for fish: I had my little practice writing the letter “F” on this handwriting practice page.


-Scale counting: We used the cover of “The Rainbow Fish” to practice accurate counting. I had my little count the silver scales, the pink, the green and the purple/blue (we did those together because it was a bit hard to distinguish them since the illustrator often mixed the colors). Then I had him count all the scales together.

-Rainbow Goldfish cracker counting: I gave my little a few handfuls of Rainbow Goldfish crackers and had him count them to work on accurately counting large groups. Then he ate them for a snack.

-Rainbow write 1-20: I gave my little a 1-20 tracing page and had him write his numbers in rainbow colors.

-Fishy adding: I printed this fishy adding page and had my little use his fingers to add the numbers then draw a line to the answer- you can also use rainbow Goldfish crackers as an adding tool.

Science/social studies:

-Rainbow fish sharing art: I opened this activity by reviewing how Rainbow Fish shared his scales with his friends, and told my little we’d be doing an activity where we would share art supplies. Then my little and I shared markers (I only put out one of each color: dark blue, light blue, pink, purple, yellow, dark green and light green) as we colored pictures of The Rainbow Fish. Then we cut out scales from tin foil and shared a glue stick to glue them to our coloring. We shared one scale we had cut out with each other too! I got this “share-tivity” from Lessons For Little Ones.

-“Be generous” idea list: I had my littles brainstorm ways we can show generosity like The Rainbow Fish. They each came up with one and I came up with one and wrote them on our chalk board.

-“How do fish breathe” video: We watched this video on how fish breathe on YouTube then I asked my littles one thing they learned from it- to which my preschooler replied “I already knew everything”…so then I asked him what special adaptation fish use to breathe in the water and what other land animals use to get oxygen from the air.

-Swimming fish surface tension experiment: This was SO COOL- if you follow me @littlelovesandlearning on Facebook I posted a video of it this week. So you cut out some 2 inch fish from white craft foam then have your littles decorate them with Sharpies. Cut a rectangular notch in the fish’s tail. Place the fish in a cake pan with about 1/2 inch of water in it. Add a drop of dish soap to the notch in it’s tail and watch it zoom across the pan! Hint: If you want your little to do their own dish soap, it works better if you put it in a pipette first. If you want to do it more than once, you have to wipe all the soap out of the pan and change the water. The reason this works is because on the surface of the water the molecules are held tightly together creating something called “surface tension”- I explained this to my little as the molecules holding hands really tight (as I also held his hand). Then when the soap touches the water, its molecules break the tight bonds- and the surface tension- and the broken bonds create space for the fish to zoom through.


-Rainbow Fish floats: There was an ice cream shop up in Maine where I grew up that made THE most yummy rainbow floats with sherbet and Sprite, so I wanted to share this treat with my little for Rainbow Fish week- unfortunately our grocery store didn’t have rainbow sherbet (what?!) so I altered the recipe a bit by putting a few scoops of vanilla ice cream with drops of food coloring on them in a cup then adding orange juice. It turned out a bit like a creamsicle or Orange Julius if you’ve ever had those, but the sherbet/Sprite version is definitely yummier!

Supply/shopping list:

  • orange juice (or Sprite)
  • vanilla ice cream (or rainbow sherbet)
  • food coloring
  • 4 “Rainbow Fish” books
  • Rainbow Goldfish crackers
  • pan
  • dish soap
  • craft foam
  • Sharpies
  • tin foil

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