Studying Fish Through The Project Approach

Studying Fish Through The Project Approach
Posted on 03/26/2018
Fish Tank

Do fish have tongues?  Do fish have noses?  How do fish breathe?  These were questions, among many others, that preschoolers were asking, leading their teachers to utilize The Project Approach, to build upon the students’ curiosity and take a “deeper dive” into their learning about fish.  “We started this, because our kids came to us and said they are so interested in fish.    As they started asking more and more questions, we realized there was a project opportunity,” shared Ellie Garrelts, Johnson Preschool Teacher.   She added, “Through The Project Approach, we are still focusing on literacy, math, science and all of those core curriculum areas.  It’s just relating it to our kids’ interests.”

In preparation to launch the project, Garrelts, along with fellow Johnson Preschool Teachers, Erin Christensen and Cyndi Ellis, covered their classroom walls with fish-related information and pictures, and each classroom now houses a fish tank.  Additionally, to reinforce student learning, they incorporated a presentation by Clay County Conservation Board Naturalist, Bree Blom, and Jenifer Knoer, a parent of a preschooler and employee of Stan’s Bait Shop,  to dissect fish with the students.

After gauging their fish knowledge by asking the students to share what they know, Bree opened her tubs and began pulling out real fish that have been preserved through taxidermy, giving students an up-close look.  Bree discussed the various parts of a fish and what they do to help the fish move fast through water and breathe.  She showed the students fish that can be found in various bodies of water around Spencer and explained that fish use their sense of smell to move around since they can’t see very well.  Nearing the end of her time with the students, Bree introduced her friend, Fred the Clownfish, and students were tasked with helping Fred swim in the water by making big waves, bringing giggles and laughter galore! 

Jenifer brought in a bluegill, which she dissected and filleted, and allowed the students to have a very close look at the fish and its different parts.  She also had live fish for the kids to see and showed pictures of fish that can be caught in the region. 

The authentic learning environment that was created for the fish unit, using The Project Approach, allowed students to be active participants.  They were able to explore their curiosity, through various types of interaction, which helped them to answer their many questions and so much more!