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Japan: Koinobori (Fish Kite) Craft!

Have you ever seen a windsock shaped like a fish before? In Japan, these traditional “koinobori” are flown every year on Children's Day (May 5th). Each member of the family is represented by a fish. Fathers are the largest and usually black, mothers are slightly smaller and pink or red, and each child has a smaller fish in the order of their age.

This activity encourages creativity, and teaches fine motor skills, one-to-one correspondence, and seriation.


Printer, scissors, markers or crayons for decorating the koinobori, and paste or glue


First talk about the members of your Little Explorer’s family. Do they have any siblings? How many fish will you need and how big should they be? Print the fish templates out and let the child(ren) decorate them. Alternatively, if you are a family doing this activity at home, each member of the family could decorate their own fish! Once they are done, cut them out and paste them to the flagpole template below in order from largest to smallest.

Talk About It:

Look at these beautiful Japanese fish kites! They’re called “koinobori” - isn’t that fun to say? We’re going to make a koinobori for each person in your family. First let’s think about the grown-ups in your family. Do you have any grandparents living with you? How many big fish do we need? How many medium fish? Now let’s think about the kids! How many brothers or sisters do you have? Let’s make a fish for each child in your family! WHat color do you want your fish to be? It must be so beautiful to walk around Japan on Children’s Day and see all the beautiful koinobori!

Take It Further:

Use toilet paper rolls or construction paper rolled into a tube to create a real windsock that you can fly outside!


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