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Life-Like Replicas: Fish

Grab your gills and fluff your fins to make art based on science! Research a fish, gather photos, and model a fun, realistic wildlife replica.

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Invite students, working in teams of 2, to investigate a fish or other water creature that interests them. Organize resources for students to view during this investigation. Encourage students to gather drawings and photographs of their selected fish or water creature in preparation for sculpting a realistic replica.
    2. Students use Model Magic® as a base for the fish body, such as an elongated rectangle or oval. Bend it into any position you want!
    3. What are the biggest body parts needed? A head, fins, and tail? Students use the most realistic colors—or be imaginative! Smooth out the surface with fingers or by gently rolling a marker over it.
    4. Now add layers. Roll the modeling compound into different-sized coils for lines. Make small balls and gently press them on for circles. Look carefully at the pictures so as to add interest and realism to the sculpture.
    5. Complete the life-like look with Crayola Glitter Glue details. Build up textured scales! Model Magic® dries to the touch overnight and dries completely in 2 to 3 days.
    6. Teams create a habitat for their creature to show its beneath-the-water home.
    7. Teams present their organism, its habitat and significant research to classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

    LA: Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    SCI: Obtain and communicate information that water exists in different forms within natural landscapes and determines the variety of life forms that can live there.

    SCI: Obtain and share information how landforms provide homes for living things.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Simon & Schuster Children's Guide to Sea Creatures by Jinny Johnson; Awesome Ocean Science by Cindy A. Littlefield; Eye Wonder: Ocean by Sue Thornton

    Encourage students to design an authentic habitat for their selected ocean life model. If possible, use recycled materials to create the habitat. Display the habitat, with the model, in the classroom. Students may also write a summary of what they have learned about this particular marine life.

    Ask students to investigate endangered life that exists in the ocean. Why are these life forms endangered? What is being done to protect them from extinction? What countries or governments are assisting in cleaning up the ocean environment and how?

    Students name their 3-D models of ocean life and compose an original message that the underwater life form would share with humans about caring for oceans. Take digital photographs of student 3-D models. Upload these photos to a classroom computer. Have students audio-tape their life form messages to the computer and attach this file to the appropriate digital photograph. Provide class time for students to listen to all messages.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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