Fish tanks in the classroom can be incorporated into projects for teaching in many subjects.
School projects with fish tanks allow children to experience nature in the classroom. Projects can teach children the obvious lessons in biology, life cycles and the need for a clean environment. However, because nature and animals will often catch a child’s interest when nothing else seems to be effective, the presence of the fish tank in the classroom can be successfully incorporated into projects to teach lessons in other areas, such as math, language arts and problem solving.
A school project involving the fish tank that is often popular for science lessons will allow students to see the life cycle unfold before their eyes. Once students and teachers have established a fish tank or aquarium that is adequate for their project, fish or frog eggs can be ordered from science supply companies or some state’s wildlife departments. These eggs can then be introduced into the tank and allowed to hatch. Children observe the fish or tadpoles emerge and grow into adults. Teachers can use the project to teach students about the life cycle, about the need for the proper environment for a particular species and other lessons in biology.
Projects involving a fish tank can also be effective to teach math skills. For older elementary school-aged students, setting up the fish tank can provide a lot of opportunities to use math skills and learn new ones. Allow students to measure how much water the tank will hold, measure the tank’s dimensions and learn about different types of measurements such as quarts, pints and ounces. For younger students, fish within the tank can be used to encourage counting and to learn math basics such as addition.
Interacting with nature and animals often will lead students to express themselves. Have older students write essays about what they see in the tank or to compose a poem about one element of the tank. Because interest has likely been captured by the presence of the tank in the classroom, consider introducing literature — books, poems or essays you will read to younger students or assign to older students — that incorporates marine life, water habitats and other related themes.
The tank also can be used to teach other skills. Research skills can be fostered by having students keep a list of questions they have about an animal, plant or process in the fish tank. Assign students research projects based upon finding the answer to one of those questions. For preschool-aged and younger elementary students, the aquarium can be used to teach colors, shapes and to reinforce letters of the alphabet. For example, students can be asked to find a red fish, the square side of the tank or to find something in the tank that begins with the letter “a.”