A long way out in the deep blue sea, there lived the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean. His iridescent scales sparkled in every color, so the other fish called him Rainbow Fish. Marcus Pfister's beloved children's book about a little fish who learned to share lends itself to classroom reading and reading-related activities that reinforce positive social behavior and literary skills. Tailor activities to the reading readiness and grade level requirements of the class.
In a primary grade classroom, mount a giant blank fish shape on a bulletin board and hand out paper "scales" to each child, after reading "The Rainbow Fish." Talk about what it means to be a friend and what qualities real friends might have. Let the children write the friendship qualities they value most on their scales, along with their names, and decorate them. Then help them to staple or pin their scales to the fish, reserving a space for a single shining foil scale. Create a sharing game to award the foil scale to one child to place on the fish and complete the friendship reminder.
Wise Old Octopus
The lonely little fish got some advice he didn't want to hear from the octopus. Following it would make him uncomfortable, but he decided to be brave and try it out. Once he discovered that sharing was the key to friendship and feeling happy, he realized the sage old sea creature was right. Make a giant octopus labelled "friendship" for the classroom, with as many tentacles as there are students. Let each student make a fish in any style they imagine, with the word that means friendship to them on it, and hand each artist a single foil scale. Attach each glittering fish to one of the tentacles. Assign various writing activities over the next few weeks to explore the concepts of sharing, knowledge-seeking and courage.
Invite an open discussion about friendship and how tough it can sometimes be to share. Encourage each child to relate a time when they didn't feel like sharing, or when they wanted a friend to share a toy. Explore strategies for making it easier to share. Point out that Rainbow Fish looked for answers when he felt puzzled and sad about the other fish ignoring him. Use art class to make dessert plate-size rainbow fish with each child's name and favorite sharing idea of the back of the fish and a string for hanging the fish over a chair back. Draw names so each child shares a fish for a week and practices their sharing idea with that classmate. At the end of the week, have the children sign the back of the fish on their chair and draw names again for another week of sharing.
Grammar for Groupers
OK, Rainbow Fish wasn't a grouper, but you can tease out a lot of grammar from his story by asking the right questions. Point out words such as "shimmer" and ask kids to think of other words to describe the fish. Hunt for adverbs and adjectives hidden in the story; talk about parts of speech and think up a few more words that might fit. Pick out all the different forms of punctuation the author uses. Ask readers to write the story in first person, from the point of view of the Rainbow Fish, then discuss POV.
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