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.
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.
Parent and fish aquarium veteran Karen Randall writes on the Animal.com 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.”
Maybe fish aren’t the perfect classroom pet….share your pet suggestions by commenting below. Roly-polies (aka isopods) anyone?