Lonely Fish (The)

K, 1, 2

This lesson introduces the concept of sharing and its relationship to a harmonious society. It also introduces good citizenship as learning how to solve problems, increases listening comprehension and use of critical thinking skills.

Lesson Rating 
One Thirty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • identify letters in the story.
  • identify and describe the behaviors of the characters and describe how Rainbow Fish felt at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
  • discuss how the concept of sharing helped solve the problem.
  • identify characteristics associated with good citizenship.
  • learn how to resolve conflicts.


The art lesson will need:

  • Water color paints
  • Optional fish outline for students to paint --two mirror images to staple together after painting
  • Foil
  • Glue
  • Stapler
  • Cotton for stuffing

  • Pfister, Marcus. The Rainbow Fish. Translated by J. Alison James. English Translation, New York: North-South Books Inc., 1992. ISBN: 1558580093.


  1. Hold up the cover of the book The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. Activate prior knowledge by asking children to describe what they see.

  2. Read the book to the class. Discuss the artwork and the different types of ocean life that are seen on each page.

  3. On selected pages, stop and encourage the students to interact with the book in the following ways:

    • What may happen next? Why did the character do that? Why do you think that happened?
    • Discuss what else could have been tried. What might have happened?
  4. Reread the book and invite the children to add further comments on what they see and think about the story. Discuss examples of good citizenship in the story.

  5. Art Activity: Construct a rainbow fish using the materials above. The children will paint a fish (either pre-designed or of their own creation), cut out two sides and attach with the teacher's help. They will then stuff the fish with cotton and attach a piece of foil to be the shiny scale. Display fish by hanging them from a string in a central location for all of the students to enjoy along with a sign of the sharing principle.

  6. Follow-up: Science lessons will further explore ocean life habitat. Show real pictures of ocean life to the children and discuss their similarities and differences to each other and to us as humans.


Children are able to give story details that occur at the beginning, middle, and end of the book (list these on the board). Ask children if they can suggest alternative solutions to the problem faced by Rainbow Fish. Use the suggestions that contain "good citizen" characteristics, especially those related to concept of "individual action for the common good." Note letters of the alphabet children had problems identifying in the story. As children make their fish, observe how well they share materials and resolve material sharing problems; also, assess for appropriate psychomotor skills. Science follow-up: note how well children sort and group pictures of ocean life.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss why some animal colonies work together.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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