Fish - Diversity and Dissection

Day 1 - What is a fish?

Start with a review of the animals already studied in class: microscopic animals, earthworm, grasshopper.

Microscopic Organisms: What are the five characteristics of life?

1. Made up of cells

2. Breathe/Gas Exchange

3. Eat and Create Waste

4. Grow and Develop

5. Reproduce


Focus on the organs of the digestive system: grop, gizzard, and intestine. Emphasize that the worm's body is taken up primarily with the digestive organs. Focus on form-fits-function and the role of the earthworm in the ecosystem.


Focus on the sensory organs and the characteristics of insects. Once again reinforce form-fits-function and ask the students to compare and contrast the earthworm and grasshopper.

Present the Fish

Present a whole fish (available at the grocery store) asking, What is this? Of course the students identify it as a fish, but then ask them how they know it is a fish. Have the students create the definition of what it takes to be a fish, focusing on form-fits-function.

1. Have gills to breathe.

2. Have fins/tail to move through the water.

3. Cold-blooded

4. Vertebrate

Play the game - Fish or Not a Fish

Use the attached powerpoint or handout of animals that live in water and ask the students if the animals are fish or not. The point is not to be correct, but to have the students familiarize themselves with the new definition of a fish and to appreciate the diversity in shapes and sizes of fish and other aquatic animals.

Power Point of Fish or Not a Fish

Day 2 - Marine Biology Coloring Book

Copy and enlarge the external and internal anatomy diagrams of fish from the Marine Biology Coloring Book or find diagrams through Google Image. The aim of this lesson is to familirize the students with what they will be seeing during the dissection.

Day 3 and 4 - Fish Dissection

Dissection Guide for the tilapia.

Fish Dissection Day


Day 5 - 3-D Fish Model