7 Fun Ways to Turn a Fishing Expedition into a Kid-approved Science Lesson

How Fishing Trips can teach your children about science

Taking your kids fishing is not only a fun way to bond, it’s also a great way to teach your kids important lessons. Fishing teaches your kids how to appreciate nature, as well as patience, conservation, biology, following directions and fine motor skills— all relevant to learning about science. Transform your next fishing trip into an exciting science lesson with these 10 tips.

The Life Cycle

Fishing teaches your kids about the life cycle, a biological process every living being goes through— even them! While every species’ life cycle is different, fishing is a good example of A life cycle is a series of stages a living thing goes through during its life. Fish begin their life cycle as an egg, then move into the larval stage when they can feed themselves. Next is the juvenile stage and after that adult. When you and your kids catch a fish, you can observe their appearance and hypothesize what stage of the cycle it is in. 

Habitats and Behavior

Help your child discover one of the most abundant habitats on our planet— water. The earth is made up of five main habitats—aquatic, desert, forest, grassland, and tundra. Animals who live in different habitats also have different behaviors that they have adapted in order to live fully and thrive in their habitat. Since water is all over the world, the habitat you’ll examine is specific to the place you are fishing— saltwater, fresh water, lake, river, ice fishing, etc.

Following Steps in Order

Fishing requires that you follow certain steps in a specific order— or the only thing you’ll catch is air! This is a good lesson to help prepare your children for science experiments and observations. Walk them step by step through the basics and explain why things must go in this order. For example, you have to bait your hook before you cast your reel, or you won’t have anything to entice the fish. 

Practice the Scientific Method

You can use the art and act of fishing as a way to explore the scientific method. On your way to go fishing, help your child come up with a question they want to test on the trip. If they get stuck, an easy one to start with is bait. For example, you could start with the question: do the fish prefer chicken gizzards or grubs? Come up with a hypothesis to test and how you will measure it. For example you can count how many fish you catch with certain bait. Or you could measure which type of bait gets the most bites. On the ride home you and your child can discuss the results and come to a conclusion.

The Food Chain

Fishing can be a hands-on learning opportunity about the food chain, especially if you are using live bait like worms or crickets. Even if you are using a lure, you can still explain how it’s made to look like food so the fish will try to catch it. All living things need energy from food. We get that energy from plants, animals and other food sources. Every food source is connected, hence the term food chain. For example, flies eat decaying organic matter on the surface of the water. A fish jumps up to catch it— which is why we use bait when we fish. You can then talk about animals other than humans who eat fish, like bears, birds and snakes.

Oxygen and Breathing

Humans cannot breathe underwater— at least not without the help of technology. But not fish! They can’t breathe in the air— yet both humans and fish need oxygen to live. A fishing trip is an ideal opportunity to talk about different kinds of respiratory systems. Talk about the way fish breathe versus the way humans breathe. Not only are you practicing comparing and contrasting, but you are also giving a lesson in anatomy, too. Fish use gills to filter oxygen out of the water. Humans use our lungs to bring fresh oxygen in and release carbon dioxide. Fish “exhale” carbon dioxide, too, passing it out from their gills and into the water. 

Conservation and Compassion

Children are naturally curious about the world, and especially the animals that live in the water. Beyond just the basics of how to fish, learning to handle fish gently and return them quickly to their environment is a great lesson in conservation and compassion— the importance of living in harmony with nature and respecting the animals that live there.

Fishing with your kids will teach them patience, the art of conversation and the importance of putting down our technology and getting outside. It’s also a way to make wonderful memories with your whole family. Combine science with family fun to get a lesson on life that everyone can benefit from. 

Photo: Unsplash