On one particularly cold, dreary, winter day I decided we needed to get out of the house! We piled in the car and headed to the pet store for an impromptu field trip. Your local pet store is such a great place to learn about fish with preschoolers! No one is getting dirty, wet, and there are so many different types of fish to observe.
Usually I can walk into that store and not come home with anything. This day, however, I couldn’t resist. The kids were so interested in all the fish. We left that day with a table-top tank and fish supplies but no fish. When I got home, I started planning our preschool fish theme.
The first day we set up the tank and talked about what our fish would need in their home. My kids added the gravel, real plants, and water. We waited a day in order to prepare the tank environment. We added water conditioner to the water to help stabilize the environment (get rid of rid of any chlorine, ammonia, or chloramine) which hopefully would allow the fish to acclimate to their new home easier. Then we let the water sit in our table-top tank for 24 hours before going back to the pet store to get our fish. We decided to get guppies!
Fish Vocabulary & Journal
I like to introduce vocabulary while observing items. So while we sit and watch the fish, I try to bring up the following terms naturally.
“Do you see the fish’s tail?”
“Look at the fish. Does it have skin like we do?”
“How do you think fish breathe under water?”
“Do you see those ‘slits’ on the side of the fish? Those are gills– and they help fish breathe.”
- tail (actually a caudal fin)
- Fish Journal
Homeschool Nature Study Members can download My Fish Journal in their dashboard.
If your preschooler enjoys sorting games, be sure to print the Water or Land worksheet from the dashboard as well. This is a cute sorting craft & game. All that’s required is to cut out different animals from the worksheet and sort them into which habitat they live ~ water or land. Be sure to ask your kiddos questions using the Fish Vocabulary words above. Does this bear have gills? Is the fox fury or does it have scales?
Fish Pretend Play Activities
We had some left-over gravel from setting up our own aquarium so we poured that into the bottom of a plastic shoe box. Then the girls decorated their own pretend aquarium using toys from around the house. Though I did this activity more for my toddler and preschooler, my kindergartener loved it too!
Older children can make their own cardboard box fish diorama. By using craft supplies around the house they can create their own fun underwater world. Either glue felt fish to the box or make hanging “puppets”.
My kids played with this for quite a while–using their imaginations. It ended up looking like a scene from Finding Nemo. Which is also a fun movie to watch during lunch or afternoon snack time.
We read and looked at many different fish-related books. After reading Fish Eye, each child made their own foam fish design. Here were some other books that we used:
Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert, My Visit to the Aquarium by Aliki, What’s It Like to Be a Fish? by Wendy Pfeffer, Under the Sea by Anna Milbourne, Goldfish: Watch It Grow Series.
We are enjoying our guppies very much! And much to our delight, we also found a snail in our tank! It must have hitched a ride on the plants we put in the aquarium.
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