- Clear plastic or glass quart-size containers, one per group
- Live goldfish, 1-2 per group
- Elodea plants, 1-2 per group
- Something Fishy Journal Page (PDF), one copy per student
- Blank writing paper, one sheet per student
- Pencils or pens
- Markers, colored pencils, or crayons
- Whiteboard and markers or chalkboard and chalk
- Nonfiction books about goldfish for student research
Set-Up and Prepare
- Obtain the fish and plants from a pet store. The day before you plan to do this activity, fill containers with tap water and let stand for 24 hours.
- Introduce fish and plants into the containers.
Step 1: Split the class into groups and have them brainstorm and record questions they have about goldfish.
Step 2: Have students draw from memory what a goldfish looks like and make notes about how it survives in water.
Step 3: Hold a class discussion to answer some of the questions. Those that can't be answered easily should be recorded for further exploration. Encourage students to try to answer their own questions using the nonfiction books about goldfish.
Step 4: Give each group a fish bowl to observe.
Step 5: Draw a large outline of a goldfish on the whiteboard or chalkboard. Have student volunteers add different parts of the fish (eyes, fins, gills, mouth) on this outline. Ask other students to label the parts.
Step 6: Hand out the copy of the Something Fishy Journal Page (PDF) to each student and have observe their fish, draw a picture of it, label any parts they can identify, and answer the following questions:
- Look at your fish's eyes. How are they adapted for seeing underwater?
- Look at your fish's mouth. What happens when it opens underwater?
- Look at the fins. How do they help the fish live underwater?
- Find the fish's gills. The gills help the fish breathe by taking oxygen out of the water. What do you have that helps you breathe instead of gills?
- Can your fish hear if you make a noise? Can it see you? How could you find out?
Critical Thinking Questions
- Ask students to look at the drawing of a goldfish which they made from memory. How is it different from the drawing made from observation?
- Ask students: What are some important ways a goldfish is adapted for life underwater? If you had to live underwater, what adaptations would you need?
Source: Splish-Splash Science