Fishtown Rec Center – Making Japanese Koi Streamers

As part of our  Travel Around the World through Art Program, this week’s project focused on Japan. 

Our instructor even wore a Bulbasaur shirt!

Here is what she taught:

I asked the group what Bulbasaur was from. Students knew right away– “Pokemon!” and I asked “where is Pokemon created?” And students realized Pokemon, as well as many other of their beloved games, are created in Japan. We discussed manga and anime, and talked about other Japanese things we know, such as the Japanese language, kimonos, sushi, rice, and fish. I asked the students if they’ve even been to a Japanese restaurant and have seen large fish swimming in a tank or a pond. Many said they looked like goldfish. I explained that those fish they saw were called koi fish and they are very important to Japan.

I told the students at Fishtown Recreation Center that there is a special day in Japan called “Children’s Day” and people create koinobori – carp streamer – to celebrate. We created our own koinobori using large white drawing paper folded in half, a teacher-made koi template, and pencils.

The students needed to keep the folded side of the paper at the bottom and only trace the top of the fish, mouth, and back fins. It was important they did not draw a line under the belly of the fish. Miss Margot and I walked around to make sure the lines were correct. This was an important step, as they were going to DOUBLE their koi when cutting.

The students cut the excess paper away, keeping the bottom part attached, and they got a symmetrical koi fish windsock! Now the challenge was to draw and color symmetrically, so the designs, details, and colors that were on the one side of the fish, were also on the other side.

Students added details – eyes, scales, fins, lines, etc – to make their koi fish more interesting. Crayons and watered down tempera were used to color, thus creating a wax resist.

In order to complete the windsocks, Miss Margot and I hole punched the kois’ mouths, lightly glued the top fins together, and tied a string through to hang! This lesson completes their travel to Japan, so of course students got a koi fish stamp on their passports! Next week, we’re traveling to India, so don’t miss out!

Miss Dayna

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