Documentation and discussion at the fish tank

Child observes fish in tank using a magnifier.An aquarium in the classroom may be a science center and the site of a morning separation ritual for some children. In addition to daily feeding and casual observation, children can make scientific drawings and notes. To encourage close observation, provide magnifying glasses and have two kinds of animals in the tank for observation. You might have two kinds of fish, or a fish and a snail. We can ask productive questions which encourage children to observe and think about what they see. As the children talk or point, suggest they draw the details of the animal’s body to show how it moves, how it is the same or different from the other animal, or the evidence that shows the animal is alive.
Child draws fish in aquarium.Learn about fish in the classroom from other teachers:
Read Mrs. Poulin’s blog (“Kindergarten is one of the places I call home”) about how the process of setting up a fish tank, and observing and documenting the completed tank, supported children’s work in thinking, speaking, listening and drawing.
Mrs. Larremore’s “Chalk Talk” blog shares a math unit using the book Fish Eyes by Lois Elhert (1990).
Short posts by teachers on ProTeacher about pet suggestions includes fish.
Child uses a documentation template to record her observation of aquarium animals.Parent and fish aquarium veteran Karen Randall writes on the FishChannel that “Aquariums in school classrooms are a great way for kids to learn about fish and biology — and they’re fun too!”
Have any readers taken part in the Pets in the Classroom grants?
A National Science Teachers Association’s resource, NSTA Recommends, describes Catherine Sill’s About Fish: A Guide For Children (2002 Peachtree Publishers, Ltd) as “an informative and well-illustrated book for primary children…a beautiful introduction to fish or life cycles…will support an integrated approach to science and language arts in the primary grades.”
Posters list class' questions about isopods (roly-polies).Maybe fish aren’t the perfect classroom pet….share your pet suggestions by commenting below. Roly-polies (aka isopods) anyone?

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3 Responses to Documentation and discussion at the fish tank

  1. Mary B says:

    The October issue of Science Scope has an article about The Wonders of Terrestrial Isopods.
    Here is more on animals in the classroom, including a link to NSTA’s position paper on the subject.

  2. Peggy Ashbrook says:

    Great additions Mary, thanks. “The Wonders of Terrestrial Isopods” says this about “pillbugs” or “roly-polies”…”The advantages of using terrestrial isopods in your science classroom are many. In most cases, they can be found on your school grounds, and their enclosure setup is minimal and inexpensive. The long-term care of terrestrial isopods is simple, and they require attention only once every week or two. They also reproduce very quickly, produce many offspring, have no odor, are slow moving, and cannot harm students. They are often perceived by students as being cute…” This is exactly why they are my favorite classroom animal.
    Another resource is “Animal Attraction: Including Animals in Early Childhood Classrooms” by Clarrisa M. Uttley. It is in the September 2013 issue of Young Children (the journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children)

  3. Chloe Myers says:

    I learn alot from my teacher during my school time about different types of aquarium fishes and the fish tanks requirements. I love to have a Checkerboard Cichlid belongs to Cichlid family

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