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Intermediate Lesson Plans: Grades 3-6

These intermediate lessons (3-6) are intended to be an introduction to the life cycle of a fish, the water cycle and the food cycle. Students will learn the four essential factors necessary for life. Students will learn how to collect and analyze data. Students will be placed in the role of scientists as they investigate and observe natural phenomena. Students will acquire and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Activity One: Water Cycle

  • Students will read the book The Water Cycle by David Smith.
  • Students will view the animated Water Cycle.
  • Students will discuss condensation and evaporation and their relation to the water cycle.
  • Students will conduct a simple water cycle experiment.
  • Students will record their observations and report those results to the class.

Activity Two: "Our Watershed"

  • Students read Where the River Begins by Thomas Locker.
  • Students will be given a map of the Blackfoot Watershed.
  • Students will identify their town.
  • Students will discuss how the Blackfoot River receives its water.
  • Students will identify the Blackfoot tributaries.
  • Students will find the source of the Blackfoot River.
  • Students will understand that a watershed includes the entire area, above and underground.
  • Students will take a nature walk in the watershed around their school.
  • Students will create a watershed diorama.

Activity Three: Trout Life Cycle

  • Students will read the book A Fish Hatches by Joanna Cole.
  • Students will discuss the life cycle of the trout.
  • Students will divide into groups.
  • Student groups will illustrate one cycle in the life of a trout.
  • Technology options: Students could use HyperStudio or PowerPoint to illustrate their part of the trout life cycle. They could put all parts together for a slideshow presentation.

Activity Four: The Life Cycle

  • Students will read the book Freshwater Fish & Fishing by Jim Arnosky.
  • Students will discuss trout and their food chain.
  • Students will research the life cycle of some of the insects that trout eat.
  • Students will discuss how the water cycle helps in the life cycle.
  • Students will illustrate the life cycle of one of the insects that trout eat or the trout food chain.
  • Technology options: Students could use the software program Inspiration to create a "web of life".

Activity Five: Create a Habitat

Copyright© Jamie McGill
  • Students will create a habitat for a guppy using two plastic liter pop bottles.
  • Students will predict what may happen in their habitat.
  • Students will record the daily changes they see in their guppy environment.
  • Students will discuss cause/effect of the observed changes.

Activity Six: Fish 3013

  • Students will read the on-line story of Cutthroat 3013.
  • Students will show the journey of Cutthroat 3013 on a map.
  • Students will be introduced to the mileage key.
  • Students find out how many miles Cutthroat 3013 traveled.
  • Students will decide on a name for Cutthroat 3013.
  • Students will divide the route the fish traveled. Each child will be assigned a section of that route.
  • Students will each write an episode of Cutthroat 3013's adventures for their section of the Blackfoot River.
  • Students will discuss Adopt-A-Trout.
  • Students will create a trout travel guide, to aid their adopted trout as it navigates the Blackfoot River.

Activity Seven: Adopt-A-Trout

  • Students will adopt one of the radio transmitter trout from the Blackfoot River.
  • Students will use the Internet to follow the progress their trout makes up the Blackfoot River.
  • Students will follow the progress their trout by marking it on a classroom map.
  • Students will create a graph that shows the miles their trout travels each day.
  • Students will speculate about what causes the different progress on different days, after monitoring the progress of their trout.

Extension Activities

  • Designing a Habitat - This Project Wild lesson has students design a habitat suitable for aquatic wildlife.
  • Food Chain - This site contains an activity to help students simulate nature's food chain.
  • Fish Prints - This explains the Japanese artform of Gyotaku and how to create those fish prints.
  • A Small Fish in a Big Pond - This is a Bull Trout project completed by students in Peterson Elementary School in Kalispell, MT.
  • Salmonid Life Cycle - This site has pictures of the six stages in the life of a Salmon.
  • River of Words - This site encourages students to submit environmental poetry and art work that describes "their place in space".
  • Adopt-A-Watershed - These are curriculum units for each grade level.


  • Communicates results from a controlled experiment and are reproducible. (Science, Activities 1 & 5)
  • Explain cause and effect relationships in living systems and non-living components within ecosystems. (Science, Activities 1 & 5)
  • Develop models that trace the life cycles of different plants and animals and discuss how the differ from species to species. (Science, Activities 3 & 4)
  • Collect, organize and display data. (Mathematics, Activities 1 & 5)
  • Construct, read, and interpret displays of data, including graphs. (Mathematics, Activity 1)
  • Develop the process of measuring and concepts related to units of measurement, including standard units (English and metric) and nonstandard units. (Mathematics, Activities 1 & 6)
  • Select and use appropriate tools and techniques for measurement. (Mathematics, Activities 1 & 6)
  • Make predictions and connections between new material and previous information/experiences. (Reading, Activity 5)
  • Incorporate new print/nonprint information into existing knowledge to draw conclusions and make application. (Reading, Activity 4)
  • Provide oral, written, and/or artistic responses to ideas and feelings generated by the reading material. (Reading, Activities 2, 3 & 6)
  • Read and interpret information from a variety of documents and sources (e.g., memos, directories, maps, tables, schedules, as well as other technological material. (Reading, Activities 1, 2, 5 & 6)
  • Make connections, integrate, and organize information from multiple sources. (Reading, Activity 4)
  • Apply conventions of standard written English (e.g. spelling, punctuation, usage) appropriate for grade level and purpose. (Writing, Activity 6)
  • Share and publish a legible final product. (Writing, Activity 6)
  • Share information in appropriate ways for intended audiences. (Writing, Activities 3 & 6)
  • Apply the elements of line, shape, form, color, space, value and texture to compose works of art and the principles of design-pattern, balance, contrast, rhythm, proportion, economy, movement, dominance. (Art, Activities 2 & 3)
  • Develop basic skills and procedures needed to operate various technologies. (Technology, Activities 3 & 4)
  • Develop and present a project using technology. (Technology, Activity 3)
  • Explore online telecommunication tools. (Technology, Activity 6)

Materials and Preparation

  • Water Cycle by David Smith
  • Where the River Begins by Thomas Locker
  • A Fish Hatches by Joanna Cole
  • Freshwater Fish & Fishing by Jim Arnosky
  • Jar
  • Soil
  • Sand
  • Small Rocks
  • Blackfoot Watershed map