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Improving Math & Science Learning:
Something Fishy

Something Fishy

Grade Level: Elementary Grade 1/2

Author: Chrissy Koukiotis, Teacher, PS1M, New York City Public Schools

Collaborator: Kathy Huey, Community School District Two Technology Staff Developer


It is important that children learn the basic research skills such as observing, collecting and recording data.  They need to learn to draw conclusions using the data they have collected.  This unit study of fishes induces students’ interest in taking notice of ordinary things in their environment, such as the goldfish.  They will come to realize that by taking notice and applying careful observation, they can discover many new aspects of something familiar.  They will also learn that there are many ways to find out more on any one subject – using personal observation, discussing among peers, consulting with more knowledgeable people, referring to printed media, and accessing computer media  To produce a class big book of the subject not only reinforces what they have learned, but also presents a concrete final product which validates their research effort.

This project integrates many curriculum areas such as reading, writing, science, social studies, and technology.

Goals and Objectives:

§         Students will learn to observe and take note of their observations.

§         Students will learn to research information about many aspects of fishes via observation, printed information available, and other mediums.

§         Students will learn to compile all information collected to make a class big book about fish.

§         Students will be introduced to different technology media and be able to use them to implement their studies.


Lesson 1: Launching the Fish Study - Observation

Projected Time Required: One Period


§         Students will learn to observe.

§         Students will learn to take notice of the particular physical characteristics of fish.

§         Students will learn to articulate their observations.

§         Students will learn to express their curiosity by asking relevant questions.



§         A picture book - Fish Faces by David Wu

§         4 fishes in 4 separate fishbowls

§         Magnifying glasses

§         Observation Sheets (one per student)

§         A computer

§         Computer Software Kid Pix



§         The teacher will introduce the topic by reading aloud Fish Faces to children.

§         The teacher will facilitate class discussions on what fishes look like.

§         Students will work in small groups to observe fishes in fishbowls with magnifying glasses.

§         Students will draw pictures of fish based on their observations (on their individual Observation Sheet).

§         Students will write down their questions on the observation sheet.

§         Students will be introduced to or get reacquainted with the software Kid Pix.



§         Students will be motivated to conduct observation.

§         Students will articulate about their observation.

§         Students will describe the physical characteristics of the fishes they have just observed.

§         Students will be curious and want to find out more about fishes.

§         Students will be working with Kid Pix.



Lesson Plan 2 – Examining the Physical Characteristics of Fish

Projected Time Required: Approximately Two Sessions



§         Students will learn words and glossaries relating to the physical characteristics of fish.



§         Goldfish by Beverly Randell

§         Fish cutouts for the whole class (The cutouts are from a fish calendar I found in a local pet store.)

§         Glue

§         Large blue paper for mural

§         A computer

§         Computer software Kid Pix and Grolier's Encylopedia



§         The teacher will read aloud Goldfish to children.

§         The teacher will introduce vocabulary relating to fish such as scales, gills, tail.

§         The teacher will use an LDC projector to show students fish pictures found in the Grolier's CD that indicate fish body parts.

§         The teacher will lead a class discussion about physical characteristics of goldfish.

§         Children will participate in the class discussion using their prior observation and the newly learned vocabulary.

§         Students will be taught in small groups how to use the Kid Pix Draw.

§         Students will work alone or with a partner.

§         Students will choose a fish cutout and label the fish’s body parts using the newly learned vocabulary such as scales, fins, gills, tail etc.

§         Students will glue labeled fish cutouts to the blue paper.

§         Students will take turns to practice using the “Draw” feature of Kid Pix to draw a fish based on their own drawings from the last session.



§         Students will know where the scales, fins and gills are on a fish’s body.

§         Students will be able to label fish body parts correctly.

§         Students will develop a beginning level of skill in using the computer.


Lesson Plan 3 – Finding out Where Fishes Live

Projected Time Required: Approximately 3 Sessions



§         Students will learn to research utilizing many resources, such as books, software, and web sites.

§         Students will learn the general kind of environment fishes live in.



§         Mural from the last session

§         Glue

§         Construction paper

§         Goldfish by Beverly Randell

§         Overhead projector

§         A computer

§         Computer software Kid Pix and Children’s Encyclopedia



§         The teacher will copy information on fish’s living environment (from the book “Goldfish” by Harper & Randell) onto a transparency and use the overhead projector to introduce the subject.

§         The teacher will introduce different research media such as books in the classroom, books in the school library, computer software such as Children’s Encyclopedia, Grolier, and Internet web sites such as the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

§         The teacher will also show students articles and pictures from the Children’s Encyclopedia relating to the environment fishes live in.

§         Students and the teacher will read the information together highlighting the many kinds of environment that fishes live in, and what elements (such as plants, rocks, water) exist in those environments that affect the livelihood of fishes.

§         The class will discuss the essential living elements for fishes – water, rocks and plants.  Sample questions:

§         Where do fish live? (In the water!)

§         What else besides water do fish need in their environment to survive?

§         Why do fish need water to live?

§         Why do fish need plants to survive?

§         Why do fish need rocks to survive?

§         Why do fish need other fish to survive?

§         Students will make a list of the newly acquired information on a chart paper for later use.

§         Students will add and compile information discussed and learned thus far and add them to the mural creation.

§         Students will also make plants, rocks, and different species of fish to add to the mural.

§         Students will continue or add to their Kid Pix drawing with more details about fish and insert text descriptions.



§         Students will understand the type of environment fishes live in, evident by being able to share the new information learned in class discussion, and add them to the mural. 

§         Students will have more advanced computer skills and be able to create multi-faceted pictures using Kid Pix.



Lesson Plan 4 – Capturing Images of the Fish Study Project

Projected Time Required: 2 to 3 Sessions



§         Students will learn to use the digital camera.

§         Students will learn to compile information and materials collected thus far.



§         Students’ completed Observation Sheets

§         The completed Fish Chart

§         The completed Fish Mural

§         A digital camera

§         A computer



§         The teacher will introduce the digital camera to students and explain how it is different from a traditional camera.

§         The teacher will demonstrate how to use the digital camera.

§         The teacher will demonstrate how to download pictures from the digital camera onto the computer and insert into Kid Pix files.

§         Students will work in small groups and take turns using the camera to take pictures of their hand drawings, the Fish Chart, and the Fish Mural.



§         Students will be able to use the digital camera with relative ease.

§         Students will be able to download pictures.


Lesson Plan 5 – Compiling A Big Book of Fishes

Projected Time Required: 4 to 5 Sessions



§         Students will make a Big Book based on all of the information researched.

§         Students will make a Big Book using computer printouts of digital pictures and Kid Pix drawings.



§         A computer

§         A color printer

§         Lots of paper for printouts

§         Sentence Strips

§         Oak tag paper for book



§         Students will work in small groups.  Each group will be assigned a topic.  Topics include: “What do fish look like?”  “What do fish need in their environment?”  “What do fish eat?”  “Eggs and Babies”

§         Students will use the information researched in previous sessions to write one fact about their topic (on sentence strip).  Each student is responsible for writing one fact.

§         Students will glue their information onto the large oak tag paper and include fish cutout on top of the page.

§         Students will print out their Kid Pix drawings and pictures and glue them onto the oak tag paper.

§         Students and teacher will discuss the order of the pages and create a table of contents.

§         Students and teacher will put pages together to compile a class fish book!!



§         Students will be able to write facts about a topic.

§         Students will be able to make a book by compiling information, sorting and putting them in order.


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