Monday, February 04, 2008

Rainbow Fish

Book openAlternate post titles:

  • Adventures in Unit Studies
  • A Moral Misunderstood
  • Wires Unplugged
  • The World's Longest Blog Post Ever
Having finished up our foray through the children's Bible, I am beginning to form our day around popular literature.

Drawing of PigletWe read several versions of Three Little Pigs the week before last. We compared the versions, talking about how the stories were similar and different. I included The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (which is from the wolf's perspective), but it was over their heads. We also read Piglet-heavy portions of The House on Pooh Corner. We looked up information about pigs, talking about what made Piglet and the three little pigs "just pretend." We drew pictures of real pigs and fictional pigs.

This past week we read Rainbow Fish and used it as the basis for several activities.

First up was a coffee filter craft from DLTK

We colored the filters with markers, sprinkled with water, then dried them:

Then we cut them into the shape of fish and glued on aluminum foil:

Later in the day I made up a puppet for each of the characters and the kids retold the story. Each of the fish was double-sided, so that we could demonstrate Rainbow Fish giving away his shimmering scales.

I know that many parents worry about the supposed Communist leanings of this book (look here and here and here, or better yet, just read the reviews over at Amazon). I think those worries, however, are based on a faulty understanding of both Rainbow Fish and Communism itself.

The Rainbow Fish is about sharing. Self-donative love, if you will. Even my three-year old understands that this story is not about fish. Fish do not talk. The story is about people. Similarly, the "shimmering scales" are a metaphor. I would argue that the scales symbolize our God-given gifts. The scales are what makes the rainbow fish special, and they are his gift to share with the other creatures of the sea. When the rainbow fish refuses to share, he is hiding his light under a bushel, but when he shares, he is glorifying God(referencing Matthew 5:15-16). In other words, his sharing makes the world better, and to keep them all to himself is selfish.

Rainbow Fish has no Soviet-style government demanding redistribution of shimmering scales; a fellow sea creature (the octopus) merely advises him that doing so is the right thing to do. There is no communist requirement that everyone own everything, just a fish who individually does the right thing. This is no more communist than donating your wealth to charity is.

Okay, I made up the stuff about God-given gifts and self-donative love. That's just the way that I read it and explained it to my kids. But the same goes for the people who say the book is about Communism. It is a cute story with beautiful artwork and a message that children will understand (as long as their parents don't overthink it for them).

The ladies popping over here from Unplugged are probably starting to wonder what all of this has to do with pipe cleaners or wires. Does this cut it for you?

Using some hard-core supplies, I made a set of numbered fish with metal hidden inside. Then, at Agent 002's direction, we tied our Fridge Phonics machine to utility wire as a fishing rod (we initially used a fridge magnet, but it was not strong enough to lift the out of the pool).

We kept score by adding the numbers on the fish, which allowed the kids to work on numeral recognition and comparison in an active and fun way. None of the kids are ready for addition yet, but Agent 004 understood that to win she needed to collect the biggest numbers. It was very funny listening to her advising F (who does not yet understand the relative value of numbers) on strategy.


Kate in NJ said...

LOL, I love your take on the Rainbow Fish..couldn't agree more.
Great unplugged ideas too!

Becky @ Boys Rule My Life said...

That's the coolest unplugged project! You rock!

Thanks for the prayers... all are very much appreciated!

Jenny said...

I'm so glad you stopped by the blog- you have a lot of great things going on here! Your ideas about the Rainbow Fish are great, and your use of wire- wow.

Anonymous said...

Wow, very hi-tech project this week! I am impressed. And what a neat game that is for teaching numbers and math to kids! As I have said before, I love it when people tie their Unplugged Project into their home school curriculum. Very fun!

By the way, I hadn't heard about the Communist theory of Rainbow Fish. What??? It is about sharing as you say! I totally agree with you.

I hope to see you next week for magazines!