How Do Fish Breathe Under Water?

How Do Fish Breathe Under Water?
Lesson Plan
Grade Level:
4th grade
Focus Question:
How do fish breathe underwater?
Learning Objectives:
Science Objective 1.03
Observe and discuss how behaviors and body structures help
animals survive in a particular habitat.
English Language Arts Objective 5.09
Create readable documents through legible handwriting and/or
word processing.
One unopened can of dark soda
Two empty clear plastic cups
One clear plastic cup filled with water and coffee grounds
One paper towel
One rubber band
Audio/Visual Materials:
Picture of a fish with gills
Pictures of Aquarius Reef Base
Picture of Scuba Diver
Teaching Time:
30 minutes
Seat Arrangement:
Children seated at desks or on floor so that everyone can see the
Maximum Number of
Key Words:
Fish, Gills, Ocean, Oxygen, Scuba
Background Information:
Human beings require air to live.
Humans breathe in oxygen.
Fish live in the ocean.
Opening Activity:
1. Show children the picture of Aquarius.
2. Explain that Aquarius is an underwater laboratory and
scientists are able to live there underwater to do research.
3. Ask children why humans cannot live underwater like fish?
Because there is no air for us to breathe
4. Tell students that inside of Aquarius there is air for humans to
live. Also tell students that if the aquanauts want to swim
around underwater they have to wear scuba gear.
5. Show children the picture of the scuba diver.
6. Explain that the scuba gear gives them oxygen to breathe while
they are underwater.
a. Point out that there is oxygen in the tank on their backs.
7. Ask children how they think fish can live underwater?
8. Show children pictures of fish.
9. Point to the gills, and ask “what are these?”
Learning Procedure: Oxygen in Water
1. Open soda can and pour it into one clear plastic cup.
2. Ask children what they think is in the clear bubbles?
Tell children there is air in the bubbles and in the air there
is oxygen.
3. Explain that there are tiny dissolved bubbles of oxygen in the
How Fish Gills Work
1. Rubber band the paper towel over the remaining empty plastic
2. Tell children the paper towel represents the fish’s gills, the
water represents the ocean water, and the coffee grounds
represent the oxygen in the ocean.
3. Pour the water and coffee ground mixture over the paper towel
into the plastic cup.
Explain to children that the coffee grounds (or oxygen)
were filtered by the paper towel.
4. Explain that in the same way fish use their gills to filter the
oxygen to breathe underwater.
Connection to Other Subjects:
English – Children will be writing a paragraph about what they
Closing Activity:
Have children draw a picture of how a fish breathes underwater on
one side of the paper, and on the other side, show how humans
breathe underwater.
Have children write a paragraph describing their picture. They
should also describe how gills work and why humans cannot
breathe underwater.