You Be You Watercolor Fish Art Project


Looking for an adorable art lesson that bridges literature and art? You Be You by Linda Kranz (author of Only One You) sets out to explore beauty in difference through a little rock fish named Adri.

This 5 minute read will transition your little ones into an art activity that explores the use of oil pastels and liquid watercolors.

You will Need:

  • 12″ x 9″ 90-lb watercolor paper
  • Liquid watercolors (blues and greens)
  • Brushes
  • Oil Pastel (Including black)
  • Pan watercolors (optional)
  • Table salt
  • About 45 minutes


Using either an array of oil pastels or just black pastels like I did, children will draw a shape using their knowledge of lines to create a fish. Encourage the children to connect the top and bottom of the fish with connecting lines so that the fish will have “stripes”. Other shapes can be added too.


Need more instruction? Try this script….

Place oil pastel near one side of the paper, but don’t go too close to the edge. Draw a dot (a dot is a circle that is filled in). Draw a circle around the dot. You just made an eye! Starting just in from of the eye, draw a curved line up and around the eye (like a rainbow) and all the way to the other side of the paper, but don’t go to the edge. Now, go back to the place in front of the eye and this time make a curved line (like a smile) to the other side of the paper. Connect the lines with a tail. Here are some tail shapes you may like to draw (draw a few tail shapes). Now add a mouth and some fins. Does your fish have big fins or small fins? Does your fish have stripes or poke dots? Does your fish have hair or long eyelashes? A crown? Go ahead and finish drawing the fish while I set out the paints.

Watercolor Paints

I love using liquid watercolor paints with beginning painters. You can read about liquid watercolors here. Set out two colors of liquid watercolor paints. I use baby food jars to store my watercolors in. Ask the children to paint the water/ocean first. They can blend the two colors together or choose one. It’s up to them.

While the background is wet, sprinkle a pinch of table salt over the wet background.

Painting the Fish

While the background dries, set out a tray of regular pan watercolors and allow the children to paint their fish with colors from the pan. I use removable pan watercolors and I literally remove the black, brown and white colors from the trays. This way, the colors have a better chance of staying bright.

If you don’t have pan watercolors and prefer to stick with liquid watercolors, set 3 or 4 liquid watercolors in baby food jars and place in plastic muffin type palettes to prevent spills.

Kindergarten Fish




  1. Sarah Lin says:

    What a beautiful and cute project! I can’t wait to do this with my kinder class (I’m an art docent). Did you do a directed drawing for the fish? If not, than how did you explain tothem how to draw their fish shapes? Thank you!!

  2. Thanks for the great lesson. I am an elementary school counselor who uses art as a connection for learning. Our topic this month is Self Confidence, I will use the book and watercolor lesson today with my 5th graders and later this week with my 1st. The rest of the school will have the lesson over the next few weeks. Thank you, love the connection to social skills!!

  3. Phyl says:

    I was confused for a moment, and then I realized this book is by the same author as Only One You, which is equally adorable and says lovely things about bring yourself. Very similar. I posted a lesson that I did using the other book, back before I retired. If anyone wants to take a look, I posted it here:

  4. Linda Kranz says:

    Hi Patty! I came across your vibrant colorful blog and wanted to let you know that your students fish are amazing! I’m the author and illustrator of Only One You and You Be You. I’m so glad you found my books and that you are sharing the messages with your students. I love art! And children’s books are so wonderful. I’m always on the look out for a new special book to add to my collection! Keep inspiring your students and your web followers! Wow!

    • Patty Palmer says:

      Hello Linda!
      I’m a big fan of yours! How wonderful that you were able to find my site and see the children’s art inspired by your great art! Thank you for your gifts…keep writing!

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About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

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