About this Site and Me

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Flower Mound, TX, United States
Hi, I am an artist, wife, mom, gamer and the Elementary Art Educator at Donald Elementary, a sweet and wonderful school in Flower Mound, TX (outside of Dallas). This is a great place to see how we are integrating studio habits with technology and interdisciplinary connections. I also love to share my "wisdom" (Re: Experiences. From mistakes.) about teaching Elementary Art. I love what I do, and I've been doing it for a long time. Creating and teaching Art is what I live for. Enjoy.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Gyotaku and Science Integration

I love gyotaku,  Japanese fish printing. 

When I taught in NJ, I used a real fish. For the entire grade level. All week long. Take a minute and let that sink in. One fish. A hundred kids. 

Never. Again. *gag*

Thankfully, now there are rubber molds! They don't smell terrible or lose their scales in the printing process. Yay!

In Texas, our 3rd graders spend the end of the year focusing on Biomes, so this is a great way to integrate Science and Art. Couldn't be easier. I had the kids tell me what they know about underwater environments, and they created a sketch of their favorite (aquarium, ocean, stream, etc). Once they had their plan, they painted their background using watercolor.

The following week, I had the printing stations set up and they printed in small groups. It is very important to use slip sheets to ensure a clean printing surface. That is actually what I did while the kids were applying their paint (acrylic): check the coverage and change the slip sheets. 

Once they were dry, they added the final details: bubbles, extra seaweed or grass (great way to cover mistakes) and I demoed how to paint fish eyeballs. The added highlight really makes a huge difference.
it's a little blurry but I think you can see it--

Needless to say, the kids LOVED this project, the classroom teachers LOVED them (and used them to decorate the "Water Biome" room for Biome Day!) and these look awesome mounted and framed.


  1. Ok... so I just gagged when you said ,"one fish, all week" and " scales that fell off..." Yeah for the rubber fish! My kids love this lesson also! :)

  2. Why didn't you just buy more fish? It would be better to have several fish choices including squid. You could also have cleaned them off and cooked them or frozen them. Using real fish seems preferable because using rubber isn't really fish printing. The smell, loss of scales, slipperiness are part of the experience. Children can see the once living creature with all of it's real detail and qualities. For one hundred students, there should be at least 1 fish for every 5 students, so 20 fish minimum. Also, the fish goes bad quickly so a bed of ice during the printing process, and not reusing the fish from 2 days ago would be necessary. Fresh fish for each class!

    1. Thanks for your input! If I lived closer to a fishing area I would definitely use the real deal. However, here in North Texas it is next to impossible to get fresh fish. Also, Texas teachers are paid very poorly, so buying "fresh" fish at the grocery store would cost me my monthly mortgage payment. Not every one has access to every supply, so we all do the best we can. It was important that my kids experience this form of printing and I was happy to use the rubber molds instead of denying them.