Pre-Historic Fish Art Lesson

Half art lesson, half free-choice project, this project requires lots of time to imagine, draw and create. Based on the book Raptors, Fossils, Fins & Fangs by Ray Troll and Brad Matsen, I photocopied pages from the book plus created a few of my own drawing aids and set out lots of supplies for the kids to choose and draw what they pleased.

We talked about selecting one main fish and filling up the rest of the paper with smaller fish. I bought beautiful colored illustration paper (the kind with texture) exclusively for this project. The colored paper really seemed to ignite the children’s imagination. They used metallic colored pencils (the results of which were lovely on the textured paper), metallic oil pastels, chalk and regular colored pencils. I allowed the children to select which medium they were most comfortable with or eager to experiment with. Many children used all of the media choices.


In the introduction of this lesson, I indicated that this can be a lovely free-choice project because it requires many art sessions to finish and thus the kids all finish at various times. The only caveat to introducing this project as a free choice project is that many kids rumpled up their illustration papers if they didn’t like their first try. Yikes! I had to explain to them that this was expensive paper and that they can practice on copy paper but they only get one illustration or texture paper.

You may want to make that clear to your students.

In the end, the boys really got into this project. In fact, for the first time in my history of teaching career, 6 boys asked to come in at lunch to finish their fish. Now that’s a successful lesson.


What do you think?

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  • Mary

    These are terrific! I love all the colors and textures.

  • Teri

    Love it! You have some gifted students!

  • Leona

    Beautiful colours and lots of movement! Choice of paper definitely makes a difference.

  • Megan

    I am giving you a stylish blog award! I love your art ideas. My kids have never had so much art bc of you!


  • Jenn

    I am can’t wait to try this with my third graders. The only elementary I have is Kinders and 3rd. My 3rds will love the creativity and freedom of this lesson, plus they love it when I bring literature into the art room. Thanks.

  • Susana

    Hi, I was wondering exactly what kind/brand of paper you purchased for this project? I love your finished pieces and think the colored paper will really make it pop! Thank you for SO many ideas and inspirations!

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