Fish Farts. Just the title alone will have your students begging to read this book. And you will be happy to oblige because this book is a great example of how to capture the imagination and teach information at the same time.
Author Fiona Bayrock writes with lively language to explain how fish use bubbles or F.aR.T.s to communicate. She also gives fascinating information on how animals use bubbles to keep warm, to build homes, and for defense. It makes for a great read aloud/discussion book and can also be used with a science unit on bubbles or animals. Grab this book from your library and try out the lesson plan below. I have coordinated it with common core state standards for grades 3-4.
Time Required: Three to five 40 minute class periods
- Bubble Homes and Fish Farts
- Whiteboard or Chart paper
- Access to computer
- Pencil and paper
- Ask the children if they have ever considered whether or not fish fart? (This will elicit giggles and comments, but it will also grab the students’ attention) Tell them that scientists study all sorts of strange and interesting topics including fish farts. Today they will be learning some scientific facts about animals by reading the informational text, Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock.
- Ask the students to use pencil and paper to write down (take notes on) scientific facts that they learn while you read the book.
- Read the book – pausing for questions and discussion after each animal.
- After you have read the book, lead the children in discussing the different facts they learned. Ask them to use their notes to help them remember the ways animals used bubbles. Make a class list on the whiteboard.
- Discuss how the author learned all this information. Turn to the back of the book and show the students the author’s information about her research.
- Ask the students if this book gives them ideas for information they would like to research. What animals in the book would they like to learn more about? Would they like to learn about other ways animals trap their food or build homes? Make a list of research topics.
- Divide the class into research teams of two or three “research scientists.” Tell them that this week they will be using books and computers to answer science questions. List a few science questions for the students to research. Have each team pick one question to research and write about.
Suggested Research Questions:
- Are there other strange ways animals hunt?
- How do other animals build homes?
- What are some unique ways animals defend themselves?
- I want to learn more about …
- Books from the library on animals
- Access to computers for children to look at specific websites suggested below
1. Hold up the Book Bubble Homes and Fish Farts and ask the students to review what they read yesterday. Remind them they will be conducting research today to find the answers to their animal questions.
2. Discuss how to read for information and how to take notes on facts.
- Help students select books and find designated websites.
(I have visited the websites below and when I viewed them there were no offensive ads or language, but you always want to check them out for yourself. Everything on the internet is subject to change!)
- During the last ten minutes of the class period have the teams of scientists meet together to discuss their findings. Give each group the opportunity to tell their most interesting fact. Then tell the students that they will be writing their own report and making the illustrations in the next class periods. Make sure they save their research!
- Research materials/books
- Access to computers
- Colored pencils
- Have the students get out their research from the previous lesson. Instruct them to work with their partners to write an informational text on their animal topic. Explain that they need to follow conventional grammar rules. They will also be expected to provide a diagram that helps to explain their topic. (It may be a picture with labels.)
- Allow the students time to write and correct their papers. This may take two sessions depending on the abilities of the class.
- When students have completed their project provide time for them to present their findings to the other student scientists.
This lesson meets the CCSS standards:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI. 4.2