Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Little Fishy

Our current science unit is the different classes of animals.  This specific lesson was on fish.  After doing an online lesson about fish and what makes them different from reptiles, amphibians and mammals, we got to do the hands on fun.  One thing I love about teaching, is the various ways you can learn about a subject. I enjoy doing those little extra things that really make learning enjoyable.

For this unit, even though we have live small goldfish, I was wanting to get a real fish to look at for the anatomy part of the unit. Unfortunately I didn't plan early enough to take everyone on a family out fishing to catch their own. We resorted to the frozen fish at the local supermarket. I was really hoping they still had their insides. Oh well. Next time we're home grandpa you'll have to do a live gutting demo after a fishing trip with the grandkids.

This lesson also reminded me of my own Great Brain project in fifth grade on fish.  We went to a fish farm where we did a video on how to catch a fish, and then later came home while they took a video of me teaching how to gut a fish.  I can even add that to my list of employment opportunities. A whole summer of gutting fish for the local city folks who had come to catch their own fish.  My hands were raw by the end of it. I've never been a greater lover of bag balm and gloves a night.

But on to our lesson.

We pulled our real fish for some hands on action.... which no one wanted to do at first.  They weren't going to touch it.  So Beau had to man up and start explaining where the gills were at, the different types of fins and their scales.

  We finally got some takers on touching it.  Then they even started having fun playing with it.

After inspecting the fish from every direction we assembled a paper fish while labeling the different parts of it's anatomy.

We then incorporated some art into it. (Of course! What else do you expect from an art teacher.)  So we started off with making prints of the fish.  Painting a good coating of black paint on it, we then laid a paper over top, rubbed it and pulled off our own realistic fish prints. I thought they turned out great.

The best part of this whole unit, was the amazing aroma we enjoyed throughout the whole house.  By the time we were finished my stomach wouldn't even think of letting me cook it up. Which would have a been another fun unit of trying a new fish dish, or some sushi.

We then pulled out the clay and built our own fish. This was a art unit I did while student teaching with my elementary teacher. She did it every year with her fifth graders when they studied fish in science. She called them taco fish.  I loved the unit. It was so fun to see the creative side come out of the kids.  I just remembered it when I was looking at this unit, and was excited that I could do it again, even though I no longer teach.

You start with a ball of clay. Roll it out like a tortilla, fill the middle with some newspaper and then fold it up like a taco around the edges leaving the front open for the mouth. You also cut out a triangle from the top back to separate the top fin from the bottom fin.

It's a great unit to talk about texture, slipping, scoring and slabs with real clay and three dimensional sculptures.

I used model magic for these since I don't have access to a real kiln.  Hmmm, could I fit that into the homeschool budget? :)  It worked great, but if you do use model magic, when you get a bucket make sure you use your 40 or 50 percent off coupon at Joanns. It's not cheap stuff. We've been able to make it last for 4 different art units. When it was rolled out flat I had the kids add texture to the clay for the scales and then flipped it over so the texture would be on the outside when it was folded like the taco.

Here is Savannah's fish she is in the middle of making. She wanted to have a worm hanging out of it's mouth.

 Mirian wanted to do a blow fish, which I thought turned out awesome!

Here is Isaac's fish, tongue and all.  He did a really great job for a 4  year old.

Even Caitlyn made a great looking fish. I just helped her pinch the top together and cut the back triangle out.

When they are all finished and dry, they look really great painted up with silver acrylic paint.  If you add a bit of watercolors to it, then you can get various colored metallic paints which can create some very shiny, festive fish. I forgot to get a picture of our final products, which only got half painted because of General Conference and distractions.  We had a great time with this lesson and can't wait to show you our others as well. Mirian had been looking forward to it all day, and has now decided that Science is her favorite class.

1 comment:

Austin and Amy Smith said...

Oh Shalae! I wish my kids were 5 years older! We could totally trade art for music lessons (maybe you could do music too, but it's my art). You're getting me all excited for homeschool! I just love how the whole family is involved, even though it's just 2 technically in "school"! Thanks for posting!