Are you searching for a big classroom project that students will remember for years to come? Try this hands-on science activity from Heather, a 5th Grade teacher, in Narvon, PA. It is perfect for differentiated learning and gives students a hands-on approach that helps them thrive.
Create a Classroom Aquarium
Each year, I have my students create a creature for whatever science unit we are doing – oceans, rainforests, sharks, etc. Their job is to create a lifelike representation of that animal and research about that animal. But why stop there?
This year, we did ocean animals. We turned our room into a giant aquarium. We divided it into “tanks” by hanging sheets from the ceiling and using our chairs as “guard rails” in the front of the “tanks.” Each tank represented a different ocean zone (great assessment opportunity for their knowledge of who lives where!), and the students were grouped according to where their particular animal lives. That is where the fun begins.
The students can bring in plants, rocks, shells, more sheets, and stuffed ocean animals to create a tank for their creatures. They use their imagination to make it as realistic as possible. We then suspend the creatures from the ceiling or prop them up to create the illusion of them swimming in their tanks.
Students create flip-books for their information which makes it easier for them to share and not be dependent on reading from a report. Then it is time to shine – we invite other grades to come and tour our aquarium. Students are aquarium staff members who are experts in their particular animal.
This is a great way to have students practice speaking skills in a more informal and non-threatening environment. They have a blast- they become knowledgeable about their creature and their classmates (from hearing the information so many times), and they gain important speaking skills to prepare them for their fifth grade graduation speeches.