I rang my chime to get the class’s attention. I announced that we were about to begin our last Science lesson about fish. I asked them to return to the carpet squares and ‘Show Five’. Once seated, I shared “The three type of water animal that we are studied in this unit were………..” I waited for answers from the class. As expected, they answered “Guppies! Goldfish. Tadpoles.”. I continued, “We observed them and noticed there are some important ways they are different from each other.”.
To keep it simple, I used three images I previously gathered from online resources. The students and I briefly (2-3 minutes) reviewed the fish and tadpole. I specifically chose the images because they were visually engaging and they showed the dramatic differences between the fish and tadpole. I have found that the more dramatic (while still keeping it real), the more engaged the students. These specific images both showed the features of the fish & tadpole accurately and were visually interesting. I had the students pair/share with assigned partners. They shared the things they noticed (“The guppy looks smaller. The tadpole is skinny. The guppy and goldfish are colorful. ”). I didn’t record these answers yet because I will use this data in the upcoming Venn diagram.
I displayed the three fish. The images gave the students valuable perspective, not just for guppies but also for people (“Guppies look different and are the same fish, just like people look different and are the same too.”). I highlighted one specific aspect about the body structure of each fish (e.g. tail). “The guppy has a more narrow body. The goldfish has pronounced (easier to see) fins. The tadpole has an extended, pointed tail. So they all have a tail.” My goal was to help the students focus the unique features of each fish so they could see characteristics that were shared. Since they already studied the bodies of each fish, they had some background knowledge that could immediate apply.
To facilitate the direct comparison piece of the lesson, we used a three part Venn diagram that I hand drew on chart paper. I purposely drew the Venn with the majority of writing space in the over lapping areas. My goal was to find comparisons, not list characteristics of the individual fish (they will do that on the upcoming Y-chart). We began to record things we noticed about each fish. Since Kindergarteners like to see things in a visual presentation, I prefer this format using three different colors, one for each fish. For this lesson, I was feeling particularly creative and used primary colors, recording the overlap portion with the color combination (e.g. red & blue writing overlapped with purple.). While this didn’t have a directly instructional application (other than color combinations!), it added and element of interest, always helpful with this age (note: the sample chart is in B & W because the original chart was used by the students for another activity and didn't quite survive.).
I began with “What is same about the goldfish and guppies?” (“They have tails.”).“What about the goldfish and guppies?” (“They have fins.”). As each comparison was shared, I recorded it on the chart. I ended the discussion at two comparisons to leave more for the small groups to brainstorm later in the lesson. You can choose a number that is right for your class. I’d suggest no more than three. Any more would leave too few for the small groups to come up with one their own. At this point, I wanted to transition the lesson to small groups so they could brainstorm more comparisons. Since we had been studying all these fish for several lessons, the class had an adequate knowledge base so the small group activity could act as a summative assessment.
After the whole class finished their comparisons, I told them “It’s time to continue this lesson with your table groups. I need you and your neighbors to come up with one or two more things that these fish have in common. It can be things that is same about either two or all three of the fish.”. I used the chime to dismiss the students back to their tables. Once they were seated, I said “Remember a few important aspects of each fish. Think about shape of the body or head, features, and color..or anything else you and your group remember.”. To help the groups organize their thoughts, I passed out half sheets of paper with a simple Y-chart and gave them five minutes to record some characteristics they could compare (the class's writing was a challenge that day. To provide another teacher with a clear example, I took one group's Y-chart and transcribed it to clearly share their ideas).
After five minutes, I gave them a one-minute warning with the chime. Once they completed their chart, they had another minutes to have a brief discussion at their table to share ideas. As that winded down, I again rang the chime. I asked the students to bring their Y-chart when they return to their carpet squares to talk about our lesson and add their ideas to our Venn diagram.
I asked the class to share their ideas, “Who noticed something that was the same in these fish?” (“All of them have mouths to burp!” “The guppy and goldfish have tails that look kind of the same.” “The guppy and tadpole have faces that are a little pointy.”). As each idea was shared, I added it to the Venn diagram. After all ideas were recorded, we reviewed the contributions before it was posted near the Science area so the students could refer to it during future Science lessons or drawing/writing activities.