My brother pointed out some large minnows swimming in a circle near the water’s edge recently. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them and they kept going and going, round and round. Then we saw a big group of striped bass swim by. It was like watching the nature channel! They didn’t bother the minnows who kept right on swimming in circles. I wondered why they did that. Apparently schooling in circles is a common thing for fish to do and might have something to do with avoiding predators. I took a video but they are hard to see so I thought maybe we should try and recreate it!
Schooling Fish Spinning Top Craft
If you want to make one too you will need a paper plate, watercolors, tempera, brayer, small piece of craft foam with adhesive backing, large juice bottle cap, scissors, tape, and a mini pencil.
- Start by painting the ocean on the back of you plate with watercolors. I used blue and made ripples with green.
- Next cut out a small fish shape from your craft foam and attach it to the bottle cap.
- Mark your stamp with a “T” for top (on the back) so you can make sure all your fish will be swimming in the same direction.
- Then add some white and green tempera side by side on your palette (I used another paper plate) and blend, just a little, with your brayer.
- Put your plate on a stack of plates so that you will be able to apply pressure while stamping.
- Apply paint to the stamp with brayer and start adding fish to your plate.
- Once you have enough minnows you might want to add some additional painted details. I needed additional highlights and shadows to make my fish stand out more. Also fish that school often have strips.
- Next find the center of your plate (I put mine on my cutting mat grid to find the center, here is another way), poke a hole, insert pencil, and tape it in place from below.
Now you are ready to take those minnows for a spin and keep them safe from predators!
Try printing your minnows in contrasting primary colors (some red and some yellow, blue and yellow, or red and blue) and watching them blend together and make a secondary color (orange, green, or purple) when you spin your top.
If you are looking for a book to go with this craft SWIMMY by Leo Lionni is an excellent choice. Swimmy knows why fish swim in schools!
If you want to see a good video of little fish swimming in circles watch this BBC clip…