First we read the story. Instead of using the first idea suggested by MaryAnn Kohl, I chose one of the alternatives -- to illustrate fish on deep blue paper using chalk pastels. I also let students use a single hole punch or a tack punch to cut out the fish eyes. I had a box of chalk pastels for every pair of children. I had several dry paper towels and a large pile of wet paper towels in the center of the table. I reminded the students about their experience using charcoal (from our illustrations in the style of Marshmallowby Clare Turlay Newberry). If you press too hard on charcoal, it will simply break. I told the students that the chalk pastels, as well, were very fragile.
I used some chalk on the blackboard to demonstrate Rule #1: Don't push too hard. I told the students that when they press on the pastel, it will make dust. Pressing harder doesn't make a darker mark, it simply makes more dust. They were to press lightly; then, using their fingers or the dry paper towel, they were to drag that dust across the paper to make a mark. They were not to BLOW on the dust! Doing this makes a huge mess on your paper and gets dust on your neighbor. Rule #2 for chalk pastels: Light then dark. Unlike some other art media they've used, you can't lighten something later by belatedly trying layer a light color on top of a dark one. Chalk pastels do not work that way. When you plan your ocean scene, use the light colors first and then layer the darker ones on top. I showed my students how to draw underwater grasses. This was something I learned in 7th grade and the ONLY thing I remember from 7th grade besides Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cryand Bridge to Terabithia
Finally, I told the students to use the wet paper towels to clean their fingers off when they were done. I let them loose and boy, what a success! My classroom was completely silent for over 20 minutes. The students were delighted with their finished work and we got a lot of compliments from other students in the neighboring class. All in all, a wonderful activity and one I will definitely do again.