Art & Literacy: Dr. Seuss Fish

I love Dr. Seuss because he’s witty, creative, and fills the imagination with as many goofy illustrations as fanciful word plays and rhymes. To wrap up our three week session of Art & Literacy I introduced Dr. Suess through the first nine pages of “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish”. I decided to trim down the book because after the first nine pages Dr. Seuss goes into a variety of imaginary animals, that while entertaining, didn’t apply to our fish drawing lesson.
In my research for storytelling and art projects I ran across Deep Space Sparkles lesson plan on drawing fish like Dr. Seuss. I adapted her lesson plan to for my younger kids by drawing coloring pages of fish. There were three styles of fish to choose from.
From observation I know that there is a developmental milestone around 3 or 4 that kicks in when children adhere to staying in the lines while coloring so I don’t like to make a big fuss about it, but it’s a fun challenge.
We first colored our fish in with oil pastel, then painted the ocean around them with liquid watercolor.
On top of the wet paint we sprinkled salt. Sprinkling salt was not only a fun sensory experience but also creates an underwater feel by mimicking the look of bubbles. The salt pushes away the paint exposing the white paper again.
With my older students we followed the outline for the Deep Space Sparkle lesson plan.
First you draw the shape of the body. I encouraged ovals and blobs. The less perfect the more character. Next we drew fins and tails along with an eye.
After drawing the main parts of the fish we started to color in the body being careful not to fill in the eye ball. With chalk pastels you can smudge right over any intersecting lines and blend the tail and fins right into the body of the fish.
After filling in the fish with color we took a black oil pastel and redrew the outline, eye, added a mouth, drew in eyelashes, and experimented with cross hatching.
Outlining with black oil pastel made the silhouette pop! It also brought alive the eyes, lashes, and mouth expressions.
Because drawing lessons involve so much fine motor skill control and a step-by-step drawing exercise like this one required focus my students had a great sense of accomplishment and pride with their finished pieces.


Each fish was incredibly unique and could definitely fit in a Dr. Seuss book! I love how the cross hatching came out in the two fish below. You can really see each students mark and style.


No this fish is not upside! Look at the lashes and the smile!


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