Goldfish and Guppies

We have fish!

IMG_1273       IMG_1274

Fist we looked at a photograph of a goldfish up on the document camera.

I asked the class, “What do you see?  What do you wonder?”  I got this idea from a recent training from this really dynamic presenter from Discovery Education.

I love this so much more than a KWL because often the things the kids think they know are actually not scientifically correct, so I can quickly change statements like,

“I see snails in the tank” to “Oh, I wonder if there are snails in the tank?  That’s a good question.”

The kids are freed to really explore their logic and thinking.

Later, we drew and labeled diagrams with all of the fish parts we identified.

We talked about how sometimes scientists have to be artists.  IMG_1263

I’ll post more as we dig deeper into this exploration.  Topics to come are habitats, needs, movement, and more!

goldfish and guppies table of contentsgoldfish and guppies sample


Is it alive?

Hooray for spring!

The kids and I are loving the beautiful weather, feeling the warm arizona sun, seeing all kinds of clouds, and enjoying lots of cool breezes.

We are beginning a new science unit on living and n0n-living, animals, eggs, worms, and more.

The kids are so excited!

We started with what we wondered.  How do we know if something is alive or not alive?

We watched this video from PSB and the kids discussed which things they though were alive, which were not, and why.

The kids drew pictures in their science journal of things they thought were living or non-living as a pre-assessment.  Many of the kids put trees and jellyfish as non-living.

The kids were so excited to share their ideas and thinking.

This song helped us learn the characteristics of living things:

Is it alive?
(Sung to Londen Bridges)
Living things need food and water, food and water, food and water.
Living things need food and air, non-living things to do not.
Living things grow and change…
Living things need air to breathe…
Living things reproduce…
Living things move by themselves…


Then we completed this chart together.

The kids didn’t know that trees breathed or that the seeds were part of reproduction.   They also had to figure out how to distinguish between objects that move because of electricity, heat, or wind and objects that move on their own.  They also weren’t sure if gas could be considered a type of food for cars.

This is a really fun topic to explore with your students.  I highly recommend it.  Give them lots of time to express their ideas and the logic behind their thinking.

At one point I had a girl say to me, “but Ms. Holland, boys do not have babies.”  Only to have one of the boys in the classroom counter, “They help!  I know they do!”

Be ready for anything.

Is a potato alive?

On Friday, I brought in some potatoes that had started to sprout at home in the kitchen.

I asked the kids if they thought they were alive.  More than half thought that no, they were not alive.

So I had the kids share with a partner what they thought.  They had to support their thinking with a logical explanation.  Then we shared out with the class.

These were some of their explanations:
The potato is not alive because it cannot have babies.

Potatoes do not move on their own.  You have to carry them.

Potatoes don’t breathe.

The potato is not alive because it has been plucked from the garden.

A few gave arguments in favor of the idea that it was alive.

One student said that it will grow and change.

We decided to test our ideas to see if in fact a potato was alive.  I put one in a cup with some water.  The others we will plant outside in our garden on Monday.  I did this last year and they grew amazingly well.  The were lush and green!

We will also write down our thinking, “I think the potato is (not) alive because…”


I’ll post images of their scientific writing when we’re done!