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Monday 24 September 2018

The Rainbow Fish Activities and planning for EYFS

Using props and activities to bring a story to life can not only help to instill a love of reading and excitement around a book, but it also helps little minds to understand and follow a storyline better. 
The Rainbow Fish Activities for EYFS

  In the year when we saw Niall from Love Island 2018 talk about his ‘rainbow fish’ and seemingly describe a completely different moral to the story, here are a few activities that should hopefully help your little ones pick out the right message and also retain the plot of the book!

The Rainbow Fish Activities for EYFS

The moral of the story of the Rainbow fish is one all about the merits of sharing and giving to others.

The Rainbow Fish scales

 Rainbow Fish Under the Sea Playdough set from www.childledplay.co.uk

Rainbow fish under the sea playdough set

Story props for The Rainbow Fish:

(click on the images below for pricing info and to buy from amazon - affiliate links - these will work for USA and UK)


We read the story at home using story props which were then available for loose parts play and story reenactment afterwards.

You can buy an actual rainbow fish puppet from Amazon UK here and these gems with fish scales on top were great for ‘giving away’ as we progressed through the story.  (NB: United States readers click here for products, and you can find my US amazon store here)


Malleable area - The Rainbow Fish Playdough:

The gems (above) can also be added to your playdough area, alongside rainbow coloured dough for children to make their own rainbow fish. You could make laminated fish templates and playdough boards to help the children when making their own fish. Include images and photocopies of the book pages to support story language and retelling the story. With an adult scaffolding, there are lots of opportunities for discussing numbers, noticing differences, observing how children retell the story etc.  

If you would like to know how to make a big batch of homemade playdough, have a look at my Valentine's Day Sensory Tuff tray post here, which has a recipe and a video showing you how. 

Understanding the World -  Real Fish investigation

To add a bit of knowledge about the world around us and some sensory play you can plan in a fish investigation like we did and source a real whole fish from your local fish counter (ideally one with shiny scales) to investigate. Have a look at how we got on when we investigated a real fish a few weeks ago:


Here is some planning for a fish investigation day, with fish investigation in the morning and seafood tasting in the afternoon (continue below for more rainbow fish activity ideas):

Fish Investigation Day Planning for the Rainbow Fish:

Learning Opportunity – Focused Activity
AM: Fish investigation – using our senses to investigate a real (dead) fish
PM: Sea food investigation – using out senses to investigate different sea foods

Alternative independent activities for children not involved in FA:

·       Challenge table – pencils, crayons and paper available for children to express their investigation experience creatively, eg, drawing the fish. * Writing opportunity HA – try to label their picture

·       Writing opportunity – write a menu for the fish restaurant – role play area 

·       Writing opportunity – large bottle – can you write a message and put it in the bottle. 

Observable behaviours – look, listen and note – for Focused Activity

·       I can work in a group during my activity, taking turns and sharing
·       I can use my senses to explore talk about what I can see, hear, smell, feel, (pm: taste)

·       I can discuss my findings and explain talk about my likes/dislikes

Development matters:
Characteristics of learning:

·        Finding out and exploring
·        Being willing to have a go
·        Being involved and concentrating

Explains own knowledge and understanding, and asks appropriate questions of others
Confident to try new activities and say what they like
Children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity
Uses talk to connect ideas, explain what is happening and anticipate what might happen next, recall and relive past experiences
Uses talk to organise, sequence and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events.
express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present
and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future
Can talk about some of the things they have observed
Talks about why things happen and how things work
Looks closely at similarities, differences, patterns and change

Adult Input

Remind children of the word ‘investigate’ – recap on the meaning of the word and the different senses we can use when investigating.

Invite children to stand around the table – ask them to give suggestions as to what they think may be underneath the covered tray. Give clues, an animal that lives under the sea etc if they struggle.

Tell children about the other activities in the classroom that are available for them to choose.

Adult questioning prompts:

Please make sure you are talking to the children in order to develop their language and enrich their vocab.

Encourage children to have a go – if children are worried to touch the fish, encourage a step approach – touch, stroke, hold with adult support, hold independently.

Questions to think about:

·       What do you need ( to help you see)?
·       How will you…..?
·       What can you see……?
·       How does is feel?
·       What can you smell?
·       How does it taste (PM activity only)
·       What do you think…(this is) ?
·       What might happen if….?
·       Can you tell me what you are doing?
·       What could you do?
·              What will happen if you…?’
·              Have you thought about…?
·              How can you find out about…?
What happens when you try…?

NB: You can find more info about this Fish Investigation activity over on my Toddler Activity Roundup post here.

PSED - celebrating sharing with Rainbow Fish scales plus mark making and display opportunity:

Make ‘scales’ out of shiny card and use them to notice and write down when your child does something kind, thinks of others or shares something that they have. Add the scales to a rainbow fish display for others to see and to celebrate good sharing. Have the scales available for the children to use themselves for mark making and talking to you about things they or others have done well. You can read the scales out at the end of the day or during circle time as real life examples of how to share and be kind.

Rainbow Fish Sensory Play:

Why not set up an Under the sea sensory tray with blue spaghetti or slime,  toy fish and scales/sequins to act out the story. You can add in numbers or letters to enhance learning depending on what your focus is. If you would like some examples of how to use language and questioning appropriately within sensory play have a look at my post on language and sensory play here. 

We will also be setting up a tuff tray soon, linked into the story - I will post some images here once they are complete! Perhaps you have some images to share yourself? Why not pop over to my child development activities group on Facebook here and post your photos and ideas?

I have lots of other sensory tuff tray ideas in my post 57 tuff tray activities for open ended play, and this frog pond tuff tray can easily be used as a fish pond tray too! 

Literacy and Mark Making using the Rainbow Fish:

Here are some ideas for mark making using the rainbow fish story...
  • Big mark making opportunities by painting on large sheets of tin foil either covering the table or covering a wall.
  • Independent fish scale writing as above
  • For EYFS focus on the pre-requisites to writing, such as working on the gross motor skills by using a parachute or a silver foil, space blanket to make big waves ( working the arm and chest muscles) or, use rainbow ribbons on sticks outside for larger movements in the air.

The Rainbow Fish

Water area - Maths:

Having foam ‘numbered’ fish in the water tray which the children can ‘go fishing’ for.

Rainbow coloured water beads will make an extra sensory experience in the water tray, and as an added line of enquiry - they also look quite a lot like fish roe!!

Speaking of fish roe, we made some lovely sensory frog spawn for our lifecycle of a frog tuff tray here, if you would like to use some of those ideas for your rainbow fish tuff tray - the children loved how slimy it was, and there are 3 different options, including basil seeds frog spawn!

The Rainbow Fish puppet

What else have you tried which has worked well?

Sarah x

You can find more activity ideas in my post 19 tuff tray activities for open ended play

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