Polka dot painted fish

We recently spent time exploring “under the sea” and the children created one of our old favorite paper plate activities – the polka dot painted fish…

Polka dot painted fish by Teach Preschool

We started out our morning reading Blue Sea by Robert Kalan.  We’ve written about this book a few other times and shared some really great art ideas related to it.  It is such a simple book with bright, vivid colors and pictures that it really inspires so many activities around the classroom!  Blue Sea is also a great book for introducing or reviewing comparative words  like big, bigger, and biggest…

Polka dot painted fish by Teach Preschool

After listening to our story, the children went off to the centers.  At the art table, they found paper plates, assorted colors of paint, and paint dabbers.  There were also scissors, glue, and googly eyes…

Polka dot painted fish by Teach Preschool

Before getting started, Deborah showed the children how they could use the scissors to cut a triangle shape out of their paper plate.  When stapled to one side of the paper plate, the triangle wedge would become the tail and the missing piece would be the fish’s mouth. The children thought that simple detail was pretty cool so they were excited to go off and cut out their own fish mouth and tail…

Polka dot painted fish by Teach Preschool

I think the best part of this process was watching the kids cut out their own fish mouth/tail.  Every child’s effort to cut out the mouth/tail turned out differently. You may be thinking that this is a “cookie cutter art project” and perhaps in many ways it is but there was a lot of process behind this craft that interested our students starting with the cutting process and moving on to explore the paint dabbers…

Polka dot painted fish by Teach Preschool

The paint dabbers had been set out on the easel the day before, but just a few children had the chance to use them.  So we set them out again with our paper plates to decorate our fish…

Polka dot painted fish by Teach Preschool

Some children chose to dab the sponges on their fish to make polka dots.  Other children chose to smoosh the dabbers onto their paper, dragging it around to spread the brightly colored paint.  Whichever technique the children chose to use, each child’s fish turned out terrific…

Polka dot painted fish by Teach Preschool

Some of the children chose to add their googly eyes right away, while others chose to add them after they had finished painting their fish…

Polka dot painted fish by Teach Preschool

When they were finished, we had the cutest polka dot painted fish with some of the best tails and mouths ever.  One mom said her daughter was so proud of her fish and played with it all afternoon…

Polka dot painted fish by Teach Preschool

Links to grow on:

Ff is for Fish

Fish in the Water

Foil Fish in Preschool 

Available on Amazon

By |2014-03-31T06:00:32+00:00March 31st, 2014|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Marcia Fowler March 31, 2014 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Cute ideas on painting. I like your book suggestions, too.

  2. Stephanie Schuler April 1, 2014 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Excellent activity! Hopefully the clean-up wasn’t too messy afterwards!

  3. Rachel @I Heart Crafty Things April 1, 2014 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Darling! Love this so much!

  4. Jenny Conklin April 1, 2014 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    Fantastic idea, and I love that book, too. The paint dabbers look like fun but I have not seen them in my local teacher supply store or the catalogs I browse. Where did you get them?

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