Animals naturally fascinate kindergartners, making lessons about fish a worthy teaching choice. If possible, have a pet fish on hand. Fish are relatively easy animals to care for, so they provide an excellent opportunity for first-hand observations. When teaching this age group about fish, include time for discussions, stories and crafts.
You can begin your study by examining the parts of a fish. You could use pictures, but if possible, providing a live fish for observation is ideal. Better yet, provide different types of fish for students to observe. Have the children look carefully and notice what they see. Point out unique body parts like gills and fins. Notice also that fish have eyes and a mouth. Talk about the purpose of different body parts: Fish breathe using gills and use their fins and tails to swim. Have students label a picture of a fish.
Kindergartners learn about what animals need to live. Discuss what fish need to live. If you have a pet fish, let the children feed the fish and discuss how much food fish need to be healthy. Talk about what fish eat in nature. Fish also need oxygen, but they get oxygen from the water using their gills. Use nonfiction literature to explore questions children may have such as do fish sleep. Compare what fish need to what people need.
Fish are diverse creatures and offer great opportunities for comparing and contrasting. If possible, visit a local aquarium or pet store to observe different fish firsthand. Children will be mesmerized watching the antics of various fish. Talk about all the differences noted. Choose two fish and create a Venn diagram. Fish needs and body parts will go in the middle for similarities. Differences will be found in appearance, such as size, color and markings. Children can draw or paint a picture of their favorite fish. When finished have them share what they like about this fish.
Make a fish by painting and stuffing a brown paper lunch bag to expand on your kindergarteners’ learning. Create an underwater scene using salt and watercolor paints. Have students use blue and green to paint the entire paper. Then sprinkle salt to create an interesting effect. Provide cutouts of fish they can glue on when the paint dries. Get a whole fish from the grocery store and paint one side of it to make fish prints. Press the painted side of the fish down on paper, and then have the children paint the background to decorate its habitat. Create an edible project by putting blue icing or cream cheese on a rice cake and adding goldfish crackers.
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