Fishy Math Practice with Swimmy by Leo Lionni

This month’s Virtual Book Club for Kids is featuring A Color of His Own, Little Blue and Little Yellow, and Swimmy by Leo Lionni. We’re learning about schooling and doing some fishy math practice with Swimmy. Be sure to check out all of the activities inspired by Leo Lionni at the end of this post. Affiliate links are included in this post. Thanks for supporting Inspiration Laboratories.

Fishy Math Games Inspired by Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Swimmy by Leo Lionni is an interesting little book. The art work is typical of Leo Lionni’s watercolor almost dreamlike style. He also uses rubber stamps and pencil to complete the illustrations.  We love all of the sea animals Swimmy meets in the story. Appreciate the art as you read the story and be inspired to paint some of your own.

At the end of the story, Swimmy teaches his new friends how “to swim like one giant fish.” Use this as an opportunity to talk about schooling. Ask your child: “Why do fish school? Why do they group together?”

A large group of fish might scare away or confuse predators. (This is what happened in Swimmy.) The predator might not recognize the individual fish and just see one large fish.

Fish are less likely to get eaten when they school. If they swim alone, they are more likely to be targeted. In a large group, they have a 1 in however many chance of being eaten.

Schooling also helps fish find food. They are able to work together as a team and look for food in many directions. They can also look out for predators this way.

There are a few more benefits to schooling but this is a good start.

Fishy Math Practice with Swimmy

You’ll Need:

  • Goldfish crackers, glass gems, paper fish, or something similar to use as fish counters
  • 2 dice
  • Fishy Math Practice printables – with numbers, without numbers, dice game. Download the printables for your own personal or classroom use.

I created a few printables for our use but initially I just told my son what to do with his goldfish. Create schools of fish of different sizes. Put 15 fish in your school. Make a school with 4 groups of 4. How many total fish do you have?

The first fishy math printable has numbers in a circle. Have your child count out the fish and cover the number as she counts.

Fishy Math Games Inspired by Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Use red fish and another color (or pretzel fish) to recreate the scene from Swimmy.

Play a fishy math game with Swimmy

You could also call out a number and have your child cover it with a fish.

The second fishy math printable has empty circles. Simply count out the fish to create your school.

Fishy Math Games Inspired by Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Place your fish in lines to make counting easier.

The fishy math dice game printable works on grouping. Roll a pair of dice to determine how many groups and how many fish are in each group.

Work on grouping numbers with this fishy math game inspired by Swimmy by Leo Lionni

My son liked the third activity the most. He enjoyed choosing different colors for each of his schools and organizing them into groups. Such a fun way to practice math!

Measuring Practice with Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

You’ll also love our measuring practice activity to go along with Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni.

More Ideas from the Virtual Book Club for Kids


See more activities inspired by Swimmy

Sticky Fish Craft for Toddlers from Toddler Approved
Watercolor Fish – Swimmy from 3 Dinosaurs
Swimmy- Alphabet Fish Game from The Educators’ Spin On It
DIY Stamps – Swimmy from Mama Miss

Try one of these ideas after reading, Little Blue and Little Yellow.

Little Blue and Little Yellow Sensory Writing from Growing Book by Book
Little Blue and Little Yellow Twisty Cups for Color Mixing and Story Telling from Lalymom
No Mess Colour Theory Exploration from Rainy Day Mum
Rainbow Sensory Bags – Mess Free from The Pleasantest Thing

This activity pairs well with A Color of His Own.

Chameleon Color Change Activity from Still Playing School

What is your favorite book by Leo Lionni?

Subscribe to the Inspiration Laboratories weekly newsletter. Each issue has exclusive hands-on science explorations for children, a recap of our latest activities, and special resources selected just for you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *