Fish Storytime

To Catch a Fish

Welcome/Opening Activity:

“Here is the Sea”
Here is the sea, the wavy sea,
Indicate small waves with hands.
Here is the boat, and here is me.
Cup one hand for the boat, and stick a finger from other hand up from below.
All the little fishes down below
Put hands down low, and point to the floor.
Wriggle their tails, and away they go!
Wriggle fingers behind your back, then push hands up and away from you.

From “I’m a Little Teapot!” compiled by Jane Cobb


Title:  Whale Snow
Author/Illustrator: Debby Dahl Edwardson, ill. Annie Patterson, trans. Jana Harcharek
Publisher/Date:  Charlesbridge, 2004
Comments:  Whale Snow, available in both English and Inupiaq, paints a joyful picture of a successful whaling season.  Traditional and contemporary Inupiaq life are well represented in the lovely illustrations as Amiqaaq experiences the excitement of his first whale.

Title:  Nessa’s Fish
Author/Illustrator:  Nancy Luenn, ill. Neil Waldman
Publisher/Date:  Atheneum, 1990
Comments:  Nessa uses knowledge from her Elders to survive a night on the tundra with her ailing grandmother.  The Nessa books (see alsoNessa’s Story, 1994) have a wonderful “tall-tale” feeling to them, consistent with traditional Inupiaq storytelling.  In Nessa’s Fish, Nessa meets and successfully scares away several arctic animals to protect the fish that she and her grandmother have caught.

Title:  The Girl Who Swam With the Fish: An Athabascan Legend
Author/Illustrator:  Retold by Michelle Renner, ill. Christine Cox
Publisher/Date:  Alaska Northwest Books, 1995
Comments:  Standing by the river, waiting for the salmon to return to her family’s fish camp, a young girl falls into the water and swims to the ocean with the other salmon, learning from them the way fish wish to be treated once they are caught.  She eventually returns to her family and shares what she has learned.

Storytelling/Oral History:

“Salmon Boy” from Keepers of the Animals by Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac.  this story does a great job of illustrating the importance of respecting the animals and the places where they live.  Similar to “The Girl Who Swam with the Fish,” above.


Many songs could be used very appropriately with this theme.  Here in Alaska Raffi’s “Baby Beluga” is appropriate.

One, Two, Three, Four, Five

One, two, three, four, five,
Once I caught a fish alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
Then I let it go again.
Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite?
The little one upon the right.

From “The Complete Book of Rhymes, Songs, Poems, Fingerplays, and Chants” compiled by Jackie Silberg and Pam Schiller


Again, the fish theme is pretty universal and very easy to work with. Children can decorate their own fish caught on a paperclip hook attached to yarn and a stick. Fish on!

Games/Other Activities:

People often catch fish only using a net in Alaska. It would be easy to adapt a game of Red Rover or Freeze Tag to fish caught in a net.


Goldfish, of course! Kids here would be happy with smoked fish of some kind as well, but use what’s available!


Little Fish
Little fish goes out to play
Put one hand on top of the other, both palms down, with thumbs outstretched
He wiggles his fins,
Wiggle thumbs.
Then swims away.
Move fingers up and down in unison.

From “I’m a Little Teapot!” compiled by Jane Cobb

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