Fish-themed preschool lesson plans, including arts and crafts, games, math, science, group time activities, songs, and snack ideas.
To introduce different kinds of fish and animals that live in the water. Where do fish live? We eat fish. We also catch fish to put in aquariums. There are main types of fish, marine (they live in the oceans which is saltwater) and freshwater (they live in lakes and rivers that contain very little salt).
Talk to the children about the theme goals. Ask them questions about fish. What stories do they know about fish? Does anyone have an aquarium? Has anyone ever gone fishing? What other animals live in the water?
My Fishy Song
Sung to “The More We Get Together”
If I could be a fishy,
A fishy, A fishy
If I could be a fishy
What kind would I be?
A swordfish, a guppy,
A goldfish, a molly,
If I could be a fishy,
I would be a (child fills in the blank)
My Crab Song
sung to “It’s a Small World”
I’m a small crab in the sea
I’m as red as I can be
I have 6 legs as you can see
I’m a small red crab
Five Little Fishies
Five little fishies, swimming in a pool
(Wiggle five fingers)
The first one said, “The pool is cool.”
(Show one finger, then wrap arms around body)
The second one said, “The pool is deep.”
(Show two fingers, then hands measure ‘deep’)
The third one said, “I want to sleep.”
(Show three fingers, then rest head on hands)
The fourth one said, “Let’s take a dip.”
(Show four fingers, then hands ‘dive’ into water)
The fifth one said, “I spy a ship.”
(Show five fingers, then form scope with hands to peer through)
Fisher boat comes,
(Form ‘V’ with fingers, then move hands away from body)
Line goes kersplash
(Pretend to throw fishing line)
Away the five little fishies dash
(Wiggle five fingers away)
My Starfish Song
Sung to “Mary had a Little Lamb”
I’m a little brown starfish,
Brown starfish, Brown starfish
I’m a little brown starfish
Who lives under the sea
My Octopus Song
Sung to “Three Blind Mice”
In the Sea, In the Sea
To swim they use all 8 of their arms
Their color changes to hide them from harm
They live in the sea, not on a farm
Have You Ever Been Fishing?
Have you ever been fishing
On a bright and sunny day?
(Pretend to cast fishing rod)
When all the little fishies
Swimmin’ up and down the bay?
Swim with hands)
With your hands in your pockets,
And your pockets in your pants,
(Put hands in pockets)
And all the little fishies do the
Hootchy Kootchy dance!
(Wiggle hips and do a little dance)
Arts and Crafts
Have the child make an octopus by knotting eight pieces of crepe paper together. Play some music and have your child do an octopus dance.
Paper Plate Octopus
Have your child cut a paper plate in half. Have the child draw eyes on the plate, then glue on eight pieces of crepe paper to the bottom as arms. When dry hang by a window to see the octopus “swim”.
Easy Octopus Art
Draw seven 5 1/2 inch lines up from the long side of a piece of construction paper. Have the child cut along the lines to make arms, and roll the paper and tape the sides of the body together. Have your child bend the arms outwards, and stick on sticker eyes.
Pipe Cleaner Octopus
Cut a toilet paper tube in half. Have your child tape eight pipe cleaners onto the tube for legs. Use a marker for the eyes.
Obtain bathtub grippers that are fish-shaped. I found mine at the dollar store. (You can use any shapes.) Peel off the back, and let your child decorate with glitter, or construction paper. You don’t have to use glue.
Paper Plate Fish
Draw a triangle mouth shape on a paper plate. Have your child cut out the triangle, and have them glue it on the fish as a tail. Let your child color, or use glitter, or tissue paper to decorate their fish.
Paper Plate Crab
Have the children glue six red or brown streamers or ribbons on the eating surface of a paper plate, then staple the plate closed so the outside is the bottom of the plate. Have the children use red tempera paint to color the crabs. After the paint dries, have the children draw on eyes and a mouth.
Fish Shaped Paper
Decorate with glitter, crayons, pens, colored pencils, markers, paint, lace, string, yarn, ribbon, paper doilys, tissue paper, torn paper, star shaped paper, the holes from a hole punch, stickers, sand, twine, old puzzle pieces, buttons, colored glue, colored tape, chalk, wet chalk, wrapping paper, stamps, aluminum foil, glue on candy confections, fish shaped sponge painting, pasta or rice colored with food coloring.
Tissue Paper Fish
Use bleeding tissue paper on white fish-shaped paper. Have the children place small pieces of tissue paper on the paper. Have them add water with a paintbrush. Allow to dry, and peel off the paper.
Make a Lake
Cut lake shapes from large pieces of construction paper. Have the children finger-paint blue.
Make a Lake 2
Have the children paint a huge piece of butcher paper with a mixture of shaving cream and blue paint. This gives the water texture. Then have the children cut out various ocean animal shapes and glue or tape them onto the butcher paper.
Under the Sea
This one is so simple. Buy some fish stickers, then have your child put the stickers on a piece of blue paper for a fish scene.
Play Dough Starfish
Obtain a few star cookie cutters. Show your child how to roll the playdough with a rolling pin and cut it with the cookie-cutter, to make starfish. Can they form a starfish without the cookie-cutter?
Cut sandpaper out in the shape of stars. Tape to the table. Have the child place a piece of paper over the star and rub a crayon over the paper to create a starfish rubbing.
Paper Plate Fish
Cut out two large oval pieces of paper for the body. Use half of a paper plate for the tail fin and a quarter of the plate for top and bottom fins. Attach the fins to the oval body with a stapler. Attach the second oval, stuffing the fish with paper 3/4 of the way through. Decorate the fish with paint and glitter. Hang from the ceiling with yarn. Attach small blue balloons for bubbles.
Put a small amount of tempera paint in a small shallow container. (The metal lid of a juice bottle works well) Show your child how to dip his/her finger in the paint and make a fingerprint on a piece of paper. (Alternative: Use a non-toxic ink pad) have your child make several fingerprints in several different colors. After the paint dries, draw on fish fins.
Math and Science
Tie 3 feet of string to a wooden spoon. Attach a magnet to the end of the string. Cut and laminate many different colored, and sized fish from construction paper. Attach a paper clip to each fish. Spread the fish shapes on the floor and let your child try to catch the fish. Have them try to catch the red fish or the biggest fish.
Use the fish from above, have your child sort the fish by color, or size.
Tape numbers on the inside of a muffin tin, 1 to 6. Tell your child to place the appropriate number of Goldfish crackers into each “fishbowl” (the holes in the muffin tin).
Observing Shells and Such
Obtain many different kinds of shells and rocks. Allow the children to feel them, and look at them with a magnifying glass.
- Blue Hair Gel
- Ziplock Bag (small)
- Plastic fish
Place the fish, glitter and gel into the baggie. Seal the bag, and then tape it shut. Let the children feel and play with the bag at a table. Observe closely so the bag is not punctured.
Clean out an empty plastic pop bottle. Add water, blue food coloring, and glitter, and maybe a few pebbles. Seal the bottle closed using a little hot glue, allow to completely dry before the children can play with it. Tip the bottle back and forth. roll the bottle on the floor.
Cut out fish shapes (2 of each kind) and laminate them. Ask your child to pick a fish… then find it’s match.
Tie 3 feet of string to a wooden spoon. Attach a magnet to the end of the string. Cut out 6 small fish shapes from the construction paper. Number the fish from 1 to 6. Attach paper clips to the fish. Lay the fish on the floor, spread them out at first. Have the children use the fishing pole to try to catch the fish. Have them try to get a certain number.
Number Fish Game
Follow instructions for Number Fish. Then, obtain a die. Have one child roll the die, then count the dots, to find the number. Then have the child try to catch the fish with that number on it.
Examine Starfish and Seahorses
Explain to your child that starfish and seahorses have an exoskeleton, or their bones are on the outside. Let them examine dried, dead seahorses and starfish.
Show pictures of a crab, octopus, starfish, and frog. How many legs do each of the animals have?
What Do Fish Need to Live?
Discuss what fish need in the sea or lake. Where do fish live? What do fish eat? Etc.
Octopus Color Changes
Discuss with your child how an octopus will change colors to blend with its surroundings. Cut four or five different colored octopuses from construction paper. Set out four or five matching sheets of construction paper. Ask your child to match the octopus with its background.
Physical Activities and Games
Have your children sit on the floor and lean back on their hands. Have them keep their feet flat on the floor. Then have them lift their bottoms off the floor and try moving sideways as crabs do.
Crab Walk Race
Have the children race like crabs.
Hide an object under one of three shells lined in a row. Move the shells around and have your child guess which shell the object is under.
Fill a dishpan half full with sand and shell. Let your child find the shells, and count them when they are done.
Fish in the Lake
See above for making a lake instructions. Obtain bean bag fish… I got mine from the dollar store. Use masking tape to make a throw line. Set the lake (after it’s dry) on the floor, an appropriate distance from the line. Have the children stand behind the line and throw the fish into the lake.
Field Trip Ideas
Go to an aquarium, point out the parts of a fish, (body, fins, eyes, gills, tail etc.) Ask your child which is the biggest, smallest? How do the fish swim? Etc.
More Watching Fish
Visit a pond, lake, or fish store to observe fish.
Let the children pretend to be fishermen. You can use a box with low sides for a boat, dowels with strings for poles, and plastic fish. (The children can pretend to be fish as well.) Provide shading hats, empty tackle boxes, and lunch pails.
Under the Sea Play
Go to a place that sells party supplies. You can buy plates with different kinds of fish on them. Cut out the fish and attach to a Popsicle stick. Allow the children to play with the different kinds of fish.
Shell Match and Sort
Place many different kinds of shells out. have your child sort the shell by type.
Be a Jellyfish
I suggest that you get a book from the library about fish, that includes a little info about jellyfish, and read it to your child before this activity. Staple pieces of crepe paper around a piece of yarn. Tie the yarn around the waist of a child and tada! Now they are jellyfish.
Set out a large box with low sides for the children to use as a submarine, and a paper tube as a periscope. Provide the children with diving gear as well. Masks, snorkel, flippers, etc.
Use the same style box as a boat. Provide the children with fisherman’s hats, sticks for poles, vests, and life preservers.
Find two sheets of identical fish stickers to make memory cards. You can also use fished-shaped sponges. Place the stickers on index cards. Place the cards face down. Each child gets a turn to pick two cards, if they match they keep them, if not they put them back. If a child makes a match they get another turn.
Swedish Fish (or Goldfish Cracker) Jar
For older children. Fill a small jar with Swedish Fish. Ask each child to guess how many Swedish Fish are in the jar. For younger children, limit the number of Swedish Fish to less than ten. Record each child’s guess. Count the Swedish Fish.
Swedish Fish (Or Goldfish Cracker) Jar for School-Age Children
Provide three identical jars with pre-counted Swedish Fish of 20, 30, and 40. Label these jars 20, 30 and 40. Place 20 to 40 Swedish Fish in a fourth identical jar. Allow the children to examine all four jars before they guess. Record the children’s approximations. Count the Swedish Fish.
How Many Fish?
Bulletin Board Idea – Place a fish craft created by the children on the bulletin board with the question “How many fish do you see?” You could also create a eye and nose mask shape like you are looking at the fish underwater.
Snack or Lunch Ideas
Eat like a Crab
Show your child a picture of a crab. Ask them “how does the crab eat?” Ask them to show you how the crabs eat using their fingers as pincers.
Hot Dog Octopus
Cut slits into a hot dog 2/3’s of the way up. Us a toothpick to poke two eyes near the top. Put the hot dog in a pan of boiling water.
Have the children use their lake as a placemat and put Goldfish crackers around the lake.
Fish in the Lake Snack
Use blue jello, and grapes to represent fish. Make in clear plastic small cups, so the children can see the fish in their own cup. Since grapes are a choking hazard, it is recommended that this snack not be served to children under the age of three, or to children who do not fully understand the concept of chewing.
Try Tuna fish
Most children have had a tuna sandwich. Try tuna fish on crackers.
Serve Jello in the Shape of a Fish.
Make Jello Jigglers according to the recipe on the box. Be sure the Jello is thin enough to use a cookie-cutter when set. After the Jello has set, press the fish-shaped cookie cutter into the Jello. Repeat. The extra can be served in small pieces or in a bowl.
Serve Sandwiches in the Shape of a Fish
Use a fish-shaped cookie cutter on two pieces of bread. Spread tuna fish mix on the bread and serve.
Serve Sugar Cookies in the Shape of a Fish
Make your favorite sugar cookie recipe. Let the children use fish-shaped cookie cutters to cut out the cookie dough. Bake according to the directions. Allow to completely cool. Supply the children with different colors of frosting and confections to decorate their fish. Don’t forget to take a picture for mom & dad, cause this art project won’t last long.
Fish in a Lake Snack
Place goldfish crackers on a blue napkin (the lake). Supply children with a pretzel rod and a bit of creamy peanut butter (or use cheese spread). Have the child dip the pretzel rod (fishing pole) in the peanut butter or cheese (bait) and try to catch a fish.