Upstream Salmon Art Project for Kinders

Upstream Salmon Art Project for Kinders


Salmon are beautiful. Period. The tangerine flesh screams yummy…accompanied by a tangy ginger sauce or on a bright blue paper! This project was inspired by the book Wow! America! by Robert Neubecker. The illustrations in this sadly out-of-print book are engaging and fun. Just like my kinders.

To begin, start with a bright orange piece of construction paper and a black oil pastel. Draw a circle for the salmon’s eye, a big round body, a tail and fins.
Outline of the Upstream Salmon Art Lesson

Then, using a small brush and white and gold metallic paint, create areas of color. Paint the eye, fins, add scales, etc.
Upstream Salmon Unpainted

When all the little salmon are happy, grab a pair of scissors and cut out all the fish.

Set aside the salmon and give each child a blue piece of construction paper and access to a tub of white paint. Use big arm motions to create a raging river. Glue salmon to river, step back and admire your beautiful art!

Kinder Salmon
Upstream Salmon Art Lesson Gallery

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  • Mrs. Hahn

    Oooh, I like this one. I like that you had them cut the warm color out and glue it onto a cool color. Very nice!!

  • Pamela Holderman

    Oh love this one. We just did the "Giraffes can't dance" and they turned out great. Thanks for your sharing. We are making clay robots right now with nuts and bolts on wire arms and legs. Will post it when done.

  • Lori Decoite

    loving this lesson! I will be trying this one. Thanks for sharing : )

  • K-Sue

    Beautiful results! I like the idea of using "big arm motions" to draw the raging river.

  • Lori K

    I love this one! Very bright!
    I would love to share the blog I've started…

  • annie

    I just stumbled across your blog and I love it! So many great ideas! I love seeing the finished projects from the kids. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge and creativity!

  • Barbra Stephens

    I love working with clay! You have inspired me to do more! Thank you!

  • Lynna

    Patty, did you use a 12×18 sheet of construction paper for these? I’m considering doing them on 9×12, but I don’t want them to lose their impact.

    • Patty

      Yes, I used 12″ x 18″ sheet. Usually I don’t use a smaller sized paper unless the artwork requires many details. Then, it makes sense to reduce the amount of paper to “fill.”
      Have fun!

  • Jenny Bartolazzi

    I LOVE these! I’m just getting back to work from maternity leave, so I’ve been looking around for some new lesson. I’m going to do this one for sure w/my 1st graders. I hope I can find the book in our library !
    Thanks for sharing 🙂


    • Patty

      You’ll love this book. So may ideas. I ordered a used one from Amazon. Less than $10 bucks and so worth it.

  • Barb

    Did this lesson last week with my kindergarten class for our school’s Art Ball. After drawing, we used gold on the salmon and silver on the backgrounds. They were pretty simple and look really good!

  • Betsy

    I love your art projects and posted a direct link to your site on my blog. I have done some of your other art projects and they are great and the kids had a lot of fun. I look forward to doing this project soon with our American girl club we will be studying Kaya and the salmon swimming upsteam. Thank so much for creating a great blog. Art is not my strong subject and thanks to your website I have done a lot more art project than I had previuosly.

  • Sandy

    I did this project with K and 1st. Instead of the book, I found a good salmon run video on Discovery Streaming. They LOVED it and this project came out absolutely adorable. Thank you for all your GREAT ideas!!

  • jess ott

    I am making these with first grade and a few alterations. I LOVE the WOW! books! So vivid! Thanks for such great lessons!

  • Leslie

    What a wonderful project Patty! So many great ideas on your blog! My daughter is studying salmon in Kindergarten right now so I will try this with her. Thank you!!!

    • Patty

      Of course she is, given that you live in Salmon country! Nice hearing from you Leslie…missing BYW!!!

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