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Lorelei Gerstemeier

Lesson Title: Gyotaku Printmaking

Grade Level: K-2nd grade
Time Allotment: 2 class periods/ 40 min

Big Idea: Across cultures and history art has been used to document the times.

Overview: The students will be learning about traditional Japanese form of printmaking
known as gyotaku. “Gyo” meaning fish and “taku” meaning rubbing. The technique started
out as a way for fisherman to record their catch before the use of a camera. The process
became a way to document varying species and later became an art form. The students will
watch a YouTube video on the process of Gyotaku. The students will create a watercolor
background with a salt technique and then use paint to print a rubber fish on to different
kinds of paper. The students will get an introduction to warm vs. cool colors and use that
knowledge when printing.

Essential Questions:
1. How can art be used for documentation?
2. How has documentation changed over time?
3. How have people from different places and times made art for different reasons?

Key Concepts:
1. Art has been made to document events in time and history across cultures.
2. Documentation was made easier and more convenient since the use of the camera.
3. People have made art for sake of documentation, pleasure, rituals, religious
purposes, decorative, functionality, ect.

Artists/ Artworks:
 Linda Heath
Standards Addressed:
A. National Standards
 VA:Cr2.1.Ka Through experimentation, build skills in various media and
approaches to art- making. The students will experiment with liquid watercolor
on different types of paper. The students will experiment using salt on the
watercolor. The students will also experiment with stamping the fish onto their
 VA:Pr4.1.Ka Select art objects for personal portfolio and display, explaining why
they were chosen. The students will make several prints, but will choose their
best print for their final.
 VA:Re7.1.Ka Identify uses of art within one’s personal environment. The
students will identify that this Japanese gyotaku technique was created as a
means of documentation before the use of a camera.
 VA:Cn11.1.Ka Identify a purpose of an artwork. The students will recall the
purpose of gyotaku as a means of documentation.

B. PA Standards
 9.1.3.A. Know and use the elements and principles to create works in the
arts and humanities
 9.1.3.I. Know and use traditional and contemporary technologies for
producing works in the arts.

Interdisciplinary Connections: English; the kindergarteners will complete a worksheet to

go along with the printing process. The students will practice signing their initials to finish
off their gyotaku final print, because the traditional fishermen would mark their initials in
the bottom left corner in a red square. History; a glimpse into traditional Japanese culture
of documentation.

1. Knowledge- The students will develop an understanding of how gyotaku printing
went from a way of documenting/ recording species of fish to a new art form.
2. Skill- The students will create their own prints using a variety of paper, watercolor
and acrylic paint, and fish stamps.
3. Disposition- The students will analyze and observe examples and techniques for
gyotaku printing.

Assessment: The students will informally be assessed on their completion of the project
and the completion of the worksheet.

Instructional Procedures:

Day 1:
1. Motivation (10 min): The instructor will show a PowerPoint presentation
on Gyotaku, show a YouTube video, and explain the steps of the printing
process through a demonstration. The students will fill out the top of their
worksheet along with the PowerPoint. The instructor will explain that on
Day 1 the students will be working on their watercolor background and
using salt the salt technique to sprinkle on top of the wet watercolored paper
to create an underwater bubbling affect.
2. Development (20 min): The instructor will have liquid watercolor out on
each table for the students to use paintbrushes to apply on their watercolor
paper. The students will then sprinkle salt on top of their paper. The students
will place their wet watercolor papers on the drying rack.
3. Closure (10 min): The instructor demonstrate what the students will be
doing the next class. The instructor will demonstrate how to apply the acrylic
paint onto the rubber fish with a paintbrush and then the students will take
their paper and press and rub it on the fish.
Day 2:
1. Motivation/ Engagement (15 min): The instructor will remind the
students what the steps to printing the fish are by doing another quick
demonstration. The instructor will have a table set up with “cool” colored
paints, a table set up with “warm” colored paints, and a table set up with
“neutral” and different rubber fish and paintbrushes at each table for
students to print on their color construction paper. The final table will be set
up with black acrylic paint that will be printed on their watercolor paper. The
instructor will pass back the students watercolor papers and allow each
student to chose two colored pieces of paper to do practice printing.
2. Development (15 min): The students will take turns printing their practice
fish on the colored construction paper while also waiting to print their final
fish on their watercolor paper with black acrylic paint.
3. Closure: (10 min): The students will place all three of their papers on the
drying rack. The instructor will end the class by asking the students what the
name of the printing we did was called and where it came from.

Day 3: Catch up day if needed.

1. Teacher research and preparations:
 http://lindaheathfishrubs.com
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkaK48urU8o

2. Instructional Resources:

 YouTube video on Gyotaku

 PowerPoint on Gyotaku steps
 A worksheet on the process

3. Student Supplies:

 Watercolor and rice paper

 Liquid watercolor in muffin tins with brushes
 Acrylic paint
 Rubber fish

4. The instructor will adapt the lesson to meet the needs of students with challenges or
students who already have knowledge of this topic by:
 The instructor will work one on one with students who struggle with the motor
skills or are blind.
Alterations Made:
Name: ___________________________________

Gyotaku Printing
Fill in the blanks
“Gyo” = ___________________ “taku” = __________________________

Gyotaku printing is a form of art that was started by a fisherman in the

country of ___________________________________

When artists finish their fish rubbing, they often sign their name or initials on
the bottom corner in a red square. It is your turn to practice your initials
inside a square!

Example: Your Turn: Another Time:

Imagine you are a fisherman and you caught a new fish! Draw what it looks