Go Fish! Recycled Fish!

Submitted by: Linda Eastman
UNIT: Recycling - Sculpture
Lesson: Go Fish! Fish or other Sea Creature from Recycled Materials
Grade Level: Elementary



Make connections to science - protect the environment and recycle - learn the parts of the fish.

Art Concept See things in a different way - think creatively - fish around for new ideas.

Art Problem Create a unique, interesting, visually appealing 3D sculpture of a fish (or underwater creature) out of mostly recycled materials.


Creative Processes

1. Get some IDEAS!

• Brainstorm - What does a fish look like? Determine the parts from schema and research.
• Assemble some recyclable materials and let them inspire you.
• Make sketches.
• Adapt other artists’ solutions.

2. Make a PLAN!

• Where to get materials?
• What supplies are needed?
• Will it be ART? or ICK! Solve the aesthetics!
• How to assemble?
• How to hang or display?

1 2


3 4


Click images for larger views
See note on Matisse Beast of the Sea Lesson


Things to Recycle

Plastic bottles - old jeans - newspapers - odds & ends - coat hangers - Styrofoam. (and Styrofoam containers) - plastic containers - string/yarn - pie tins - old jewelry - aluminum foil hardware - cardboard cartons - cans- bottle caps - wood scraps - scrap papers


3. Create a sculpture.

  • Put your materials together to make a sea creature in the way you have planned.

  • Solve any problems that arise.

Assess your sculpture as you work:

  • Craftsmanship (neatness, sturdiness)

  • Aesthetics (demonstrates art principles)

4. Write a reflection on your experiences.

Critique your sculpture



Find a selection of fish sculptures to share with students (before or after the art making). Provide visual resources for various fish images.


One image Linda used was "Big Fish" Sculpture by John Kindness. It is printed ceramic mosaic: http://www.artscouncil-ni.org/publicart/tour/tour13.htm - John Kindness

Critique fish sculptures found and compare/contrast with the student sculptures.



Project: Recycled Materials - Fish Sculpture

Name________________________________________     Class _________________




Mastery – 3 pts

Advancing –2pts

Novice – 1 pt


Developing skills at grade level – Shows growth - takes risks to discover

I produce high quality, creative work. I show originality and take risks to learn new.





Understanding and application of Art Concepts and lesson objectives

I apply all art concepts, especially those stressed for the project. I solve problems myself.






Participation and effort

I always participate in class and always use class time well






Use and care of Materials

I used all materials appropriately with no reminders. I always clean up








I always follow all classroom rules and never cause a classroom disturbance. I am Always helpful.






S+=15-11     S=10-6     NI=5-0     Total



Art Concept (s):

Artists look at objects in different ways. Artists can make something new out of ordinary objects.


Lesson Objectives:

Students created a unique, interesting, visually appealing 3-d sculpture of a fish (or underwater creature) out of mostly recycled materials.


Teacher’s comments:

Parent Signature: ________________________________Date______________


National Standards:

1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions

3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

4. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

5. Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines

Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes

Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas

Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art

Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art



Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses

Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning


Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum

(make connections to science)

Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories

Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas




Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner






Note on Matisse Beasts of the Sea Lesson:

Matisse lesson was done with 2nd grade. Student scan "Sea Beasts by Henri Matisse. and try to figure out what the picture is about. Then they use Tissue paper. and glue (watered down) to cover a 12x18 white paper. Next class, Linda shows them how to cut 3 of Matisse's conventional shapes: the "see through spiral", the leaf (sea weed), and the "spiny creature" (star). She limits color selection on the Construction Paper. to blue, orange, black and white.  After that they can add their own creatures/details.


Kindergarten Swimmy Lesson:

Kindergartners painted cool colors for the background - fill the page. Linda taught basic painting skills and procedures. Next time, she read them Swimmy. by Leo Lionni and they looked at their paintings to see if there were any "caves" or dark secret hiding places. They also talked about how all Lionni's fish were printed. Linda made the fish stencils from oak tag and  the students used red and yellow tempera with little sponges and clothes pins to stencil the fish on the paintings. Next came the oil crayons for seaweed.



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