Guppy and the Goldfish

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SWBAT to explain the differences between goldfish and guppies by comparing the two different types of fish.

Big Idea

Kids learn to apply what they've learned in earlier lessons about the physical structures of a fish.


10 minutes

To get the kids actively engaged in this lesson, I call them to the floor one table at a time to sit like scientists. This means crisscross apple sauce, hands in lap, mouth closed, eyes, ears and brain ready to learn.

We go over the chart and diagram that we made in the previous lessons.

I have the kids talk to their floor partner to share what they remember about each point on the chart and how it is reflected in the fish diagram.

This prepares the kids to observe the guppy and the goldfish and make connections between them.


10 minutes

I have the kids gather on the floor by calling one table at a time to sit like scientists. I go over the same rules and procedures as in the previous fish lessons, Meet Goldie the Goldfish and Meet Gilbert the Guppy.


  • Stay in seat
  • Keep hands in lap until asked to use them
  • Be very quiet at your seats
  • Always look at the fish, but never touch the jar/bowl


  • I will place one guppy and one goldfish on each table for you to observe.
  • You will sit at your seat and use the magnifying glass to look closely at your fish without touching the jar/bowl
  • You will look at your fish to determine how your guppy fish is similar and different to the goldfish
  • You will talk to your table friends about how the two fish are the same and how they are different

I then dismiss one table at a time to go to their seats to observe their fish. I give the kids 6-8 minutes to observe and discuss what they see the same and different about the two types of fish. The time depends on how long it takes to prepare them for the observation. I set a timer - I use my iPhone. Setting a timer keeps the kids on task as they realize there is a limited amount of time to observe so they use that time wisely.

Once timer goes off, I instruct the kids to give their magnifying glasses to their table leader who in turn gives it to my helper of the day.


10 minutes

I have the kids return to the floor to sit like scientists by once again calling one table at a time.

Once they are all sitting appropriately, I ask the kids to think about the fish they observed.

I create a double-bubble chart on paper. The double-bubble makes it easy for the kids to visualize the likenesses and the differences between the fish. It's very beneficial for kids to be able to see information in a clear and organized diagram.

I ask the kids to share one thing that was the same about the two animals with their floor partner. I then pull a random student to share out by pulling a name stick from the name stick can.

We do this until the kids run out ideas. If I feel they missed something, I prompt them by using the fish diagram created in the previous lesson. I ask, "What about.....? How is that the same/different from the first fish?"


5 minutes

The explain section of this lesson answers the question, "Why compare animals?"

The kids are still seated on the floor.

I write the question on a fresh piece of chart paper and ask them to think silently in their brains about why it might be important to compare two animals that are similar?

 I allow the kids to answer as many ideas as they can. I encourage them to be creative and think outside of the box.

One student even shares that she wants to know the difference between the fish so she can name them!

In this lesson, the explanations belong to the kids. I want them to begin thinking like scientists independently. I want them to begin to develop generating discourse, experiment ideas, and critical thinking skills.


5 minutes

To elaborate on this learning, I provide for the kids a diagram with both fish on it. They write the identifying word on the line between the to diagrams. They use only the goldfish diagram that was completed in the previous lesson as a reference.

I roam the room as the complete the new diagram. I assist when needed. When a student is confused or unsure, I refer to the goldfish diagram and ask supporting questions to lead them to the correct answer. I never just give them the answers. I help them work toward the answer by helping the kids use what they know. This supports the development of critical thinking skills.


5 minutes

One extension of this lesson is to take a few moments to compare other types of animals rather than just fish. Here is a list of ideas:








This can be done by having a discussion with the kids.



10 minutes

The evaluation of this lesson is done through the diagram and through the closing discussion.

I spot check the kids' understanding of comparing two similar animals as I collect the science journals.

I call kids to the side if I see any alarming concerns, or I meet with them in a small group at a later time in the near future. In this small group I focus on only the likenesses between the animals so they stand out and the kids can clearly grasp that while animals can be different, they can share many similarities.

We complete this experience by gathering back onto the floor and sharing what we've learned. I call on a few volunteers to share out with the class what they learned from this experience.

What this looks like:

I pose the question, "What is one thing you've learned from this experience?" I give the kids 20 to 30 seconds of think time. I then have them share with their floor partner. I call on a few volunteers to share out.