Inspired by ‘The Rainbow Fish’

“A long way out in the deep blue sea there lived a fish. Not just an ordinary fish, but the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean. His scales were every shade of blue and green and purple, with sparkling silver scales among them.” 
extract from ‘The Rainbow Fish’ by Marcus Pfister .

I have recently completed a project with a Reception and Year One class for Curious Minds. The brief was to include collaborative and individual working for the children, numeracy and the theme ‘water’. Mathematical language was used throughout : how many?, how many more?, Is that too much?, Do we need more or less?

The children experienced silk-painting, and drawing outlines of shapes with gutta. We then talked about ‘The Rainbow Fish’ and we decided to create a huge silk painting based on it. They also made small wire and tissue fishes, and they had to choose two colours of beads for threading – counting as they threaded them on.

Their fishes were then suspended from the ceiling with ribbons and displays of their silk painting, and lot of photographs of the children working. Questions  like ‘How many points does a star fish have?’, ‘How many octopus can you see?’ also became part of the display.
Feltmaking was the next process the teachers had chosen to explore.

 The children teased the the wool tops and placed them on some pre-felt. We talked again about the wonderful colours described in ‘The Rainbow Fish’. Their creation was then placed on a J cloth (cellulose cleaning cloth), with another over the top.

 They added wool threads, organza ribbons and a sprinking of glitter.

 They carefully measured quantities of warm, soapy water to pour over their work.

 Then they rubbed the J cloth packages for about 5-10 mins. The heat, friction and water makes the wool fibres shrink and stick together.

The felts are then ‘fuelled’ by lots and lots of rolling in a bamboo blind. Some people use bubble wrap for this but I prefer the blind. The longer the felt is rolled ( ideally at least ten minutes with some firm adult rolling as well as the childrens) the stronger it will be. It is hard work and is great for toning upper arms 🙂

Re-shape whilst flat and leave to dry.

 The children can then sew and bead onto their felt. It’s a great surface to sew on. When they first start to sew I tie the thread onto the needle at the eye, to avoid the frustration of it keep coming out. They just need to tug slightly to get it through, and if they get tangled up it’s easy enough to untie the knot and un-pick the stitches.

We completed the project with weaving using strips of recycled carrier bags ( I’ll try and post some pics another time), and garden netting.
Long, short, wide, narrow, double , half  – all mathematical vocabulary which again came into play.

The staff are all confident that they will be able to re-visit the techniques and build upon what the children experienced and learnt.


8 thoughts on “Inspired by ‘The Rainbow Fish’

  1. Suzanne, this is lovely creative work. I hope that when Hal goes to school he will be introduced to this depth of experience and given such a great opportunity for understanding mathematical vocabulary. I like the fluid movement (if you'll pardon the pun) between the reading, the making and the numeracy.I know the school have really benefitted from your work because it has come through in feedback.

  2. Sam – Glittery felt – who would have thought!Alison – Thanks so much for taking the time to write this. It was a great project.Steve – Thanks. It was great fun, I wished I'd have done stuff like it when I was little too 🙂

  3. What a fabulous project! I love the pictures of the children working on the different stages and the end result is just beautiful. I know my girls would love to try something like this at school.

  4. I Love This!!! You are introducing things that they are so able to do, but so many adults steer away from! So creative – thanks for sharing!!

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