Leader of the School

Leader of the School lesson plan

Build classroom community. Promote teamwork. Encourage leadership skills with Swimmy’s exciting story and lush ocean art.

  • 1.

    Read <EM>Swimmy</EM> by Leo Lionni. Imagine the beautiful colors and creatures of the ocean. What made Swimmy the leader of his school? How could you be more like Swimmy? Here’s a project that’s fun to do with your friends! You could even do a class mural using art techniques similar to those that Lionni used to illustrate his book.

  • 2.

    <STRONG>Sponge paint the ocean. </STRONG>Cover your art area with newspaper. Using a Crayola® Paint Brush, wet heavy paper with water.

  • 3.

    Place a few drops of water into each Crayola Washable Watercolor pan. Dip a sponge into a color and sponge it across the paper. Use your imagination to choose more ocean colors to add to the scene. Air-dry the background.

  • 4.

    <STRONG>Design the fish. </STRONG>In the ocean, sketch a large fish with Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils.

  • 5.

    Draw a small fish on a sponge. <STRONG>Ask an adult </STRONG>to cut out the fish with Crayola Scissors.

  • 6.

    Place red (or any color) Crayola Washable Paint in a recycled produce tray. Dip the sponge fish into the paint. Fill the large fish outline with many sponged red fish. Leave a space where the eye would be for Swimmy. Print him with black paint. Air-dry yo

  • 7.

    Erase any extra colored pencil marks. Retell Swimmy’s story to younger children.


  • Students read and examine the book Swimmy by Leo Lionni to find out how hard work, clever thinking, and teamwork can solve many problems.
  • Students begin to understand the enormous and colorful variety of ocean life and how animals camouflage themselves for protection.
  • Students experiment with watercolor paints to create an underwater environment for Swimmy and his friends similar to the illustration style in Lionni’s book.


  • With younger children and those who have special needs, visit an aquarium so they can see fish first-hand. Encourage children to work in pairs on various projects. Point out the benefits of teamwork.
  • Try different art materials and techniques to illustrate other scenes in a style similar to Lionni’s work.
  • Children find out about the parts of fish and how they breathe. Create a large drawing detailing and labeling the sections of the fish.
  • Find and read other Leo Lionni books. Create a bulletin board about his writing and art.
  • Discover other animals and insects that use camouflage for protection. Draw pictures of them in different environments showing how they differ in color with seasonal changes.
  • Promote the development of children’s social skills. Work in teams. Nurture friendships. Establish a sense of community within the classroom and school.
  • Encourage children’s leadership skills. Read and discuss other stories about real and imaginary leaders.