Puffy the Puffer Fish and friends: Mixed Media Collage (September 2013)

This year I have some very young children in my Art Club, so I thought it would be good to start with a project based on a storybook. Books with wonderful illustrations are always a fantastic source of inspiration and reading a story is a great way to focus younger children at the start of an art lesson.

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Barry the Fish with Fingers, written and illustrated by Sue Hendra, tells the story of a Puffer Fish called Puffy, who loves to blow bubbles for his friends. They’ve never seen anything so amazing, until… a new fish called Barry comes along. Barry is a fish with fingers, and he makes all the fish laugh by tickling them, but Puffy doesn’t want to join in. He is grumpy because no-one wants to see his bubbles any more!

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After telling the story, I gave each child an A3 sheet of blue paper which they covered with white glue. We tore long strips of blue and green tissue paper, and the children arranged them horizontally on their paper, trying to alternate the colours. Next, the really fun bit: filling the sea with bubbles!

blog DSCF6430The children dipped plastic pots, lids and cardboard tubes into blue and white paint, and stamped large and small circles all over the tissue paper background. To add some sparkle and texture, the children sprinkled some silver glitter over the wet paint.

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My younger group (aged 2-4) made Puffer Fish. First they all had a go at cutting out a circle from yellow paper. Then they glued on colourful tissue paper circles and spiky shapes to create prickly Puffer Fish.

The older children (aged 4-6) drew and cut out their own fish shapes, some opting for round Puffer Fish while others exercised their imaginations to create more complex fish shapes.

blog DSCF6437Black spots cut from paper were glued inside white milk carton lids to create eyes, and round bubble-blowing mouths were made from circles of brown paper.

blog 2013-09-17 15.21.45This project worked really well for all the ages that I teach, from the under-threes to the six year olds, but the younger children completed the project over two sessions while the older group finished in one 45 minute session.

The children were all very proud of their multi-layered ocean scenes and colourful fish.

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Please watch the slideshow below for more pictures of Puffy and his friends.


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  1. Hi, Hannah! This is a wonderful project and it worked beautifully for all the children if your class. It is specially hard to find projects for smaller kids 2-4 that are different and fun. You always come out with the best ideas. I love it how you used the story and the book as a starting point. Looking forward to the new projects!
    Elsa 🙂

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