The Rainbow FIsh, by Marcus Pfister

Rainbow fish thinks he is so beautiful and special that he does not want to share with others. What he learns is that to have friends, one must be a friend and share.


  • Shiney and silver materials that can be used for collaging (foil, ribbon, sequence, papers)
  • A silver writing marker or pen
  • Sidewalk chalk and spray bottle
  • Minnows (found in a bait shop) This is an added expense but if you can afford is really fun to do.


  • Shiney (something that sparkles)
  • Silver (a color)
  • Scales (the skin covering of fish)
  • Fin (the part that moves to help fish swim)
  • Gills (the part of the fishes body that help it get air to breath)

Before Reading the Story

Ask the children how they feel when someone ignores them or is not nice to them? Ask the children what does it mean to share? How do you feel when someone shares with you or you share with someone else? Allow the children to discuss any ideas they have about friendship and sharing.

Language Development/Speaking & Understanding; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions; and for other varied purposes. AND Social & Emotional Development/Social Relationships; progresses in responding sympathetically to peers who are in need, upset, hurt, or angry; and in expressing empathy and caring in others.

Reading the Story

On the page where the octopus tells Rainbow Fish to share his scales, ask the children if they know why this will make Rainbow Fish happy? (Because he is sharing)

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation;demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

After Reading the Story

Ask the children if they know what makes a good friend? Allow them to discuss and write their responses onto a piece of paper (or small fish shapes) and hang it on the wall. (My brother is my friend because he plays with me, Amy is my friend cause she let me ride the bike). As the children discuss, reinforce the concepts of sharing and kind acts.

Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; grows in eagerness to learn about and discuss a growing range of topics, ideas, and tasks.


Bring in pictures of real fish for the children to examine and compare. Ask them to describe each fish with 2-3 attributes. (It is fat, it has stripes, it has a big mouth, it has teeth, it is long). As the children compare pictures, introduce words such as fin, scale, and gills. Have them repeat the words back and try to use in sentence.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes. AND Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; uses an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary.

Music and Movement

Sing 5 Little Fish Swimming in the Water.

Teach the children the first verse of Fish Song.

Fish have fins and are covered with scales.

They swim in the water and breath with their gills.

(After the children can repeat the verse, pretend to be fish and swim around the classroom. Can you swim fast, slow, in circles, very low, backwards?)

Language Development/Listening & Understanding;demonstrates increasing ability to attend to and understand conversations, stories, songs, and poems.


Tell the children that many fisher people fish from a boat. Challenge the children to build a boat they can get inside of.

Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; approaches tasks and activities with increased flexibility, imagination, and inventiveness.


Put out shiney and silver materials that the children can collage with today. These will show up nicely on black construction paper.

Creative Arts/Art; begins to understand and share opinions about artistic products and experiences.

Library and Writing

Cut out scale shapes, one per child. Encourage the child to write or mark their letters on the scale using a marker. Then ask the child what they are willing to share with others? Write their response under their name. Hang all the scales together on the wall with a fish head shape and a tail.

Literacy/Early Writing; progresses from using scribbles, shapes, or pictures to represent ideas, to using letter-like symbols, to copying or writing familiar words such as their own name. AND Social & Emotional Development/Social Relationships; progresses in responding sympathetically to peers who are in need, upset, hurt, or angry; and in expressing empathy and caring in others.

Sand and Water

Fill the table with COLD water today. Add the live minnows. Make sure the children wash their hands both before and after touching the fish and stress the importance of being gentle when touching. (When I have done this with children, some are very interested and some are a bit afraid. Though this will require some adult supervision, it is a fun and different sensory activity for children).

Science/Scientific SKills & Methods; begins to use senses and a variety of tools and simple measuring devices to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships. AND Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; chooses to participate in an increasing variety of tasks and activities.

Dramatic Play

Math and Manipulatives

Cut out a simple fish shape in small, medium, large, and largest. Cut these out in several colors. The children can use them to sort by size or shape or put them in order from small to large. If you cut out a large variety they can use to make patterns.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; shows increasing abilities to match, sort, put in series, and regroup objects according to one or two attributes such as size or shape.

Outdoor Play

Give the children sidewalk chalk to write on the cement today. ENcourage them to practice writing their name or draw fish. When they are finished they can use a spray bottle of water to spray over their writing/fish.

Literacy/Early Writing; progresses from scribbles, shapes or pictures to represent ideas, to using letter-like symbols, to copying or writing familiar words such as their own name. AND Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; progresses in abilities to use writing , drawing, and art tools, including pencils, markers, chalk paint brushes, and various types of technology.


Send the children to the next activity by having them pretend to swim like a fish. Call out colors starting with silver, then gold. (If you are wearing silver go line up. Remind children to check around zippers and shoelace holes).

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions.


About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.