The Rainbow Fish

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2
Civil Society
Fiction Literature
Philanthropic Literature
Rainbow Fish (The)
by Marcus Pfister A literature guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to build children's understanding of generosity, community, and service to others. Spanish Version Attached.

Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Every child has been faced with the issue of sharing something that is special to him or her. Sharing is difficult, and it is not always easy to see the positive effects of sharing. This book can be used to spark a meaningful discussion about the benefits of sharing. Children can see the point of view of the other fish who admire the rainbow fish’s sparkling scales. They can also watch the rainbow fish struggle with a difficult choice and then respond with generosity. Your family will enjoy making your own rainbow fish after reading the story together.

Before Reading

ASK: Did you ever have something that someone else wanted? How did that feel? How did you act toward that person? Were you proud? Were you uncomfortable? Did you share what you had? Why or why not?

SHOW: The cover of the book and talk about what is pictured. Encourage predictions and creative observations.

CONNECT: We are going to read a story about a beautiful fish that had something the other fish wanted. Let’s find out how the rainbow fish felt and acted toward the others.

During Reading

ASK: How does the rainbow fish feel about sharing? What do you think he should do? Why? How do the other fish feel about the rainbow fish?

SHOW: Talk about the art style and colors. Talk about the different ocean life pictured.

CONNECT: Many sea creatures live in groups that need each other. Other sea creatures live alone. Do people live in groups or alone? Do we need each other? Does the rainbow fish need other fish?

After Reading

ASK: Did rainbow fish make the best choice? Why do you think that? How does giving benefit both the giver and the receiver?

SHOW: Observe the result of sharing in the fish community. Observe the common good.

CONNECT: This story shows us that each person may make a personal choice that affects the whole community. What individual actions can we (as individuals or as a family) make for the common good?


Art Lesson:
Make a stuffed rainbow fish. Each family member may have a responsibility according to his or her ability and interests. Work together, take turns, and share materials.

Gather the following materials:

  • Fish body: two pieces of construction paper
  • scissors, stapler, and glue
  • Fish scales: tissue paper, wallpaper scraps, or colored paper scraps
  • Shiny scales: aluminum foil
  • Stuffing: tissues or paper towels
  • google eyes or buttons
  • yarn to hang the fish from the ceiling


  1. Cut out a fish shape through both pieces of construction paper.
  2. Glue on the eyes.
  3. Cut scraps of paper, tissue paper, or wallpaper (sample books available from paint stores) into triangles for fish scales. Also cut out foil scales. (Optional: The foil may be painted or colored with markers for a rainbow effect.) Glue the scales on each fish shape.
  4. Staple the two fish shapes together around the edges, leaving a small opening for stuffing.
  5. Stuff the fish slightly to give it a 3-D effect. Staple the small opening closed.
  6. Hang the fish in your home to remind your family of the importance of sharing with each other.
  7. (Optional: To enhance the theme of working together and sharing, glue on the sides of the fish one item from each family member—a drawing, a small photo, small toy, etc.)

After the art project, talk about how well you worked together as a group. How does each person feel about his or her contribution to the finished product? Talk about what you could do together next. This may be another sea creature art project or an act of sharing for the common good. (For example, what does your family have to share with the community?)



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