Activities and Lesson Plans

Cool School

You may print Cool School children's pages from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. We hope you'll consider a subscription to our magazine. Be sure to check out the Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine special offer for teachers. And please let us know your suggestions for future issues at:

Suggested Topics: systems, food webs, adaptations, conservation

Related 4th Grade TEKS:

Language Arts:

4.1 A, B, C: Listening, Speaking, Purposes: Listens Actively and Purposefully in a Variety of Settings

4.5 A, B, C, D, F: Listening, Speaking, Audiences: Speaks Clearly and Appropriately to Different Audiences for Different Purposes and Occasions

4.9 E: Reading, Vocabulary Development: Acquires Extensive Vocabulary through Reading and Systematic Word Study

4.13 A, B, C, D, E, G: Reading, Inquiry, Research: Inquires and Conducts Research Using a Variety of Sources

4.15 A, C: Writing, Purposes: Writes for Variety of Audiences and Purposes in Various Forms

4.18 A, B, C, D, E, F, G: Writing, Grammar, Usage: Applies Grammar and Usage to Communicate Clearly and Effectively in Writing

4.21 A, B, C, D: Writing, Inquiry, Research: Uses Writing as a Tool for Learning and Research


4.1 A: Scientific Processes: Conducts Field and Laboratory Investigations

4.2 A, B, C, D, E: Scientific Processes: Develops Abilities to do Scientific Inquiry in Field and Laboratory

4.3 A, C, D: Scientific Processes: Uses Critical Thinking and Scientific Problem Solving to Make Informed Decisions

4.5 A, B: Science Concepts: Parts Removed from Complex Systems

4.8 A, B, C: Science Concepts: Adaptations Increase Survival


4.3 A: Number, Operations and Quantitative Reasoning : Addition and Subtraction

Social Studies

4.22 A,B: Social Studies Skills : Use Critical Thinking to Organize and Use Information from a Variety of Sources

4.23 D,E: Social Studies Skills : Communicates in Written, Oral and Visual Forms

4.24 B: Social Studies Skills : Problem Solving and Decision Making

4.6 A: Geography : Uses Geographic Tools

Discussion Questions

  • What fish is shown on the first page? It is a saltwater fish. Where do saltwater fish live? Where do freshwater fish live? Could a freshwater fish live in saltwater? Could a saltwater fish live in freshwater? Explain.
  • Look at pages 46 - 47. Describe at least three adaptations that help fish survive.
  • Find a fact that describes at least one difference between saltwater and freshwater fish.
  • Describe how fish shapes and coloration help fish.
  • How many ways does a fish protect itself? (coloration, hiding, fish scales, fish "slime," schooling.
  • Do you or your family go fishing? What are some ways anglers can conserve (use wisely) fish populations?


  • The Shadow Knows! Use Fish Shapes to compare body, fin and mouth shapes of different species of fish. Match the Fish has students compare silhouettes with fish and identify several fish.
  • How Do Fish...? Learn how fish swim, breathe and reproduce as well as the six senses of fish.
  • Try a vocabulary challenge! Introduce students to fish body parts and how they function through the kids' web pages on fish. Have students observe fish in an aquarium or use a fish from the market. Try the Fish Parts page to learn and then test your students' knowledge of fish body parts.
  • Read Fish Scales and then examine real fish scales under a magnifier to determine the age of a fish bought at the grocery store. Scales from cold-climate fish will show the growth rings more noticeably, but remember that this is an estimate and other factors can influence growth rings. See the teacher background page some estimates of maximum life spans for different types of fish.
  • Learn about the state fish, the Guadalupe bass.
  • Have your budding artists enter the State Fish Art contest!
  • If the children have access to a pool, challenge them to swim like a fish.
  • Participate in a river or beach clean-up in your area or organize one and document the types of trash that were found.
  • Students enjoy the art of "Gyoko," or Japanese fish printing. Fish prints can be used to help students learn the parts of a fish and to illustrate different fish habitats. Using a real, plastic or rubber fish mold, have students lightly coat the fish with paint. Gently press a cloth or paper over the fish, making sure to touch all parts of the fish. Lift the paper or cloth and let the print dry. Fish can be rinsed and reused. Works best with light coats of paint; can use multiple colors.
  • Visit a fish hatchery, Sea Center Texas or Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center! Learn how fish are raised and released.Think about what it takes to recreate good conditions for raising fish and compare that to nature. Challenge your students to think about the value of healthy waterways compared to the cost of building new fish hatcheries!
  • Go fishing!

Project WILD

Interesting Links for Further Research

Learn About Texas Freshwater Fishes activity book