Extending Your Project WILD Aquatic Activities

At the recent “Trout in the Classroom” workshop, a list of suggestions on how to combine and extend Project WILD Aquatic activities was distributed. These ideas are to get you started on your trout egg hatching unit and to remind you about Project Wild Aquatic activities that will enhance your learning environment.

Ways to create teaching units:

  • Use the Topic and Skills indexes in the Project Wild Aquatic Guide Appendices.
  • See the correlations between Project Wild Aquatic activities and the Common Core Standards on our website: www.classroomaquarium.org
  • Combine age-appropriate activities, starting with these suggestions based on today’s workshop activities:

Aqua Words: Follow this “painless poetry” with: (a) writing other types of poems, as described in the activity,  (b) Interview an Invertebrate, in which students pair up, decide which of them is the invertebrate and which is the reporter, and then do an interview for the “evening news.”  Both students work together to develop 2-3 questions and answers that illustrate the most exciting events in the life of a small, often overlooked critter,  (c) Enviro-Bumper Sticker, in which students make up bumper stickers with environmental messages.  Examples: “Save a trout; eat chicken” “Restore a Creek Today” “Give Trout a Chance”

Learning to Look: Follow this observation skill-development activity with: (a) Are You Me? in which each student is given a picture of a mature or immature animal and each pair needs to find its other life stage. These pairs are in the Guide, ready to copy and cut out. (b) Animal Charades, in which teams of 4-5 students all form and pantomime one animal together and the rest of the class guesses what they are.  c) Do Fashion a Fish or color in the trout hat from our website, based on observations of the posters.


migration headache

Oh Trout!  Follow this with:  (a) Silt: A Dirty Word, in which students blow through a straw into the bottom of a glass of water that is filled first with 1”-2” diameter cobbles  and then with silt added. This demonstrates that even if a trout is able to return to its spawning ground, that location must be suitable for eggs. Silt eliminates the oxygen between the cobbles that the eggs need to develop, as students will discover when it is difficult to blow air through it. (b) Play Migration Headache, which is similar to Oh Trout! but with increases or decreases in suitable habitat. This demonstrates how migrating animals (trout, birds and many others) depend on more than one geographically suitable habitat to survive.

Hooks & Ladders: Follow this activity with:  (a) Race to the Redd or Return to the Redd, the board games that illustrate the challenges of a trout during its life cycle,. Both can be downloaded from our website: www.classroomaquarium.org.  (b) Play Protect the Redd, a triangle tag game in which three students hold hands and one of them is the redd.  The fourth student, outside the triangle, is another trout that tries to steal the site by tagging the redd while its two student parent trout and the student redd circle around to try to protect their redd nesting site. If the intruding trout tags the redd, the students change roles.  If the intruding trout gets worn out, roles can change then. Students will discover that “possession is 9/10ths of the law.”  (c) Follow up with Aquatic Times.  Students create a newspaper with current events about the aquarium simulating the environment, the progress of their trout, their release day experience, etc. To bring in the tech for STEM, it can be a Blog or Video. This can be an evaluation project to showcase what has been learned. It can be used to promote community awareness about the need for watershed protection, to teach other students and teachers about the program, or even to show the School Board the value of the program.

Please share other activities that would make good combinations with the other 400+ teachers hatching trout in the Bay Area.  Send your ideas to Ethan so he can post them on our website:  ethan.rotman@wildlife.ca.gov.


About Ethan Rotman

Ethan Rotman (Bayareatic) manages and coordinates programs that hatch fish in classrooms for the San Francisco Bay Area. He also chairs the committee that manages these programs throughout the state. Ethan has worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for over 20 years.
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