Rainbow Fish: Glazed Clay Fish

rainbow glaze clay fish

So many fish in the sea!

Our sixth grade finished the slab clay fish project. Although I provided a choice of  just three templates, students were able to customize them through re-shaping, texture, and glaze. We ended up with a wide variety of fish.

These three rainbow fish started from the same template. Artists scratched lines into the wet clay to make stripes. Later they painted these defined areas. Students who did this technique ended up with neatly glazed fish. Caution: avoid scratching a line across the narrowest part of the tail – it will be more likely to break.

mariel's fish

Want to make a rainbow fish? Make shallow lines in wet clay with a skewer. Glaze fired clay – try to stay inside the lines!


Morgan's fish

Here is a different rainbow fish.  The artist used a different template, then created texture with tiny balls of clay and the eraser tip of pencil. The fish is trimmed with a thin clay coil, which the artist later glazed shiny black.


I wrote how to roll and cut the fish here and here. More glazing examples here. More examples next week!

Clay Sea Rocks

5th graders made clay 'sea rocks'. Allow three 40-minute sessions.

Want an ocean-themed clay project with high success? Super fun? Colorful? Only one firing? And……NO SLIP!

Try this sea rocks lesson plan!


  • clay
  • newspaper
  • white vinegar in small cups
  • Q-tips
  • toothpicks
  • pencils
  • Popsicle stick or other clay tools
  • gallon-size Ziploc storage bags (if more than one session is required)

Day 1:

Look at photos of sea life that attaches to rock.

Coral reef.

For another artist’s take on sea life, view images from Disney movie ‘Finding Nemo’. Look at the sea life on the ocean floor.

Inspiration: colorful sea floor from Disney movie 'Finding Nemo'

Download this clay sea rocks powerpoint from CAEA conference (we think this project was presented by clay educator Barry Bernam around 2005).

It all starts with a pinch pot. Stuff with crumpled newspaper for support and turn upside down. Apply starfish, urchins, coral etc. to top of rock using vinegar to attach.

Vinegar, clay tool, toothpick



If you don’t finish, wrap clay in damp paper towels and seal in Ziploc bag.

Day 2:

Finish adding sea life to rock.


I let them dry for 12 days, then fired on slow setting.

Although no slip was used to attach decorations, only one decoration came off during bisque firing.

Day 3:

We painted with pan watercolors and tiny brushes. Students had option of rinsing off excess paint (they called this ‘fading’). Also could draw on painted ‘rock’ with colored pencil.


I will add shine with a little spray gloss (I use Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Spray Gloss ).

A huge thank you to SDAEA’s Carol Catalano Webb, who brought back this lesson from California state conference AND made the YouTube movie. A huge thank you to the clay teacher who created the Powerpoint (we think it was Barry Bernam-please leave a comment if you know Barry!).

Kindergarten Fish Mobiles

I have admired the fabulous yarn-wrapped cardboard fish mobiles shown on a couple of elementary art blogs. I wanted to do the project with kindergarten as part of a whole-school ocean-themed art installation to be hung later this spring….

Kindergarteners created yarn-wrapped cardboard fish. Allow two 40-minute classes.


  • Thin cardboard approx 8″x10″
  • black marker
  • scissors
  • crayons or markers
  • yarn cut in 6 foot lengths, one per student
  • large paper clips (for hanging)
  • hole punch (for hanging)
  • optional: bottlecaps and tacky glue/glue dots for eyes

Part one:

We started with thin cardboard rectangles about 8″x10″. We did a dot-to-dot directed draw of a simple fish shape.

Kinders started with a dot-to-dot directed draw. Don’t make base of tail too narrow or fish may rip.

Then the students cut out the fish shape. Because we used thin cardboard, 95% were able to cut the fish without help.

Now kinders add four dots to the top edge of the fish, and four dots to the bottom. A few kids made their dots too close together….so I’d say 90% did this task independently.

The kids use scissors to cut slits along the edges of the fish, stopping at the dots. 100% were able to do this task independently.

Now color both sides of the fish. We used regular crayons (I wish I had construction paper crayons to brighten the dull gray cardboard…next year!).

Part two:

Students finished coloring both sides of their fish. Each received a six-foot length of yarn (cut by me, lest you think I didn’t have ANY prep on this project…..) and wrapped the yarn around and around and up and down across their fish.

Wrapping the yarn was tricky for some students. I found out kids were more successful with the yarn wrap when I modeled it in front of the room (as opposed to on my document camera). I’d say about 70% could do this independently on their first attempt.

Optional: glue on eyes.

To hang the fish: use a hole punch to make one hole near the top edge and one at the bottom edge.  Open a large paper clip to form a ‘S’ hook.

Open paper clip connects fish for mobile.

Connect your chain. I was able to make a hanging chain of five fish.

Inspiration for this projects comes from this post on the Fem Manuals blog and this post on the Deep Space Sparkle blog.

I believe that a lot of my lesson plans (at all grade levels) could be tweaked to increase student independence.

What do you think of ‘kinderpendence’? 

Clay Fish from Templates Swim into Sixth Grade

Today my fabulous colleagues stayed after school for a clay session. We made clay fish using slabs and templates. The sixth grade does this project in the spring.  Allow three 40+ minute sessions for this lesson.

Day 1: Select template. Roll slab and cut fish. Wrap in wet paper towels and store in gallon Ziploc bag

Day 2: Add details and texture.

Allow to dry.  Bisque fire…..then

Day 3: Glaze.

Texture tools include pencils, marker caps, glue caps and tips, and carved rubber stamps



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