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Gone Fishing Unit Study

Updated on October 29, 2014

Brook Trout

Trout | Source

Fishing for Vermont Brook Trout: A Unit Study

The Vermont State Symbol for Cold Water Fish is the Brook Trout. Brook Trout used to be abundant in the brooks and streams of Vermont. After flood control dams were built following the devastating floods of 1927, however, the trout could no longer make their journey to the ocean and back up the streams anymore. Now trout is stalked in ponds and rivers.

In this unit study we will be fishing for information about brook trout. We will be reading about fish including brook trout, writing about brook trout and other fish and learning the mathematics of fish such as the brook trout. We will look into the history of brook trout and learn the life cycle of brook trout.

Come swim the brooks and streams of Vermont as we learn more and more about the Vermont State Cold Water Fish, the Brook Trout.

Language Arts

The Adventures of Buster Bear
The Adventures of Buster Bear

Buster Bear smells the delicious odor of Brook Trout swimming in the Laughing Brook. Children love reading about life in the Green Forest and the animals that live in the Brook Trout's habitat. Books by Thornton Burgess are ideal for children beginning to read chapter books and can help to teach children about some of the Vermont State Symbols such as the Brook Trout.


Brook Trout Unit Study

The Adventures of Buster Bear is one of my favorite books to read to children as we begin a unit study on Brook Trout. This book, by Thornton Burgess, sets the scene by describing the animals and the Woodland Habitat where Brook Trout can be found.

The children gather on the rug and listen intently to the story knowing that fun, hands-on activities will follow.

Today we will be setting up a sensory table with potting soil, small tree saplings, water, rocks. We brainstorm the kinds of animals that might be found in and around the brook.

We choose the animals that we believe are most likely to interact with fish.

The children take turns playing in the sensory table creating trout habitat while making up scenarios involving fish, their predators and prey.


Learning about Brook Trout

Fishing for Brook Trout
Fishing for Brook Trout | Source

Gone Fishing for Math

Some people find it difficult to incorporate math into a unit study but when you think about it, math is everywhere.

  • Play Go Fish using a deck of cards. Ask the children to create sets of four cards that all have the same answer. For example: 2+3, 6-1, 1+5, and 1+2+2 all equal 5. Write these number problems on fish-shaped cards, laminate them, and teach the children how to play the game.
  • Bring a Brook Trout into the classroom. Have the children estimate the length, width, and weight of the fish. Then measure your fish to see how close you came.
  • A female trout lays 20 to 400 eggs but only 1-2% survive to adulthood. How many adults should be expected to survive to adulthood if 350 eggs are laid?

Consider displaying a poster of the life cycle of the Brook Trout so that the children can use the facts found there to create other math problems.


Is it a Brook Trout? - Using a Guide to Fresh Water Fish

Take a trip down to the brook to look for fish. If you have an underwater camera you may be able to photograph them. Then when you get back to your classroom you may be able to discover which kind of fish you captured.

Hand the children copies of guidebooks which identify fish from North American streams. Rather than just showing them how to use them, give the children a few minutes to brainstorm the organization of the guidebook.

Notice the position of the fins. Look at the shape of the mouth and tail. Pay close attention to the coloring and patterns.

Is the fish you found a Brook Trout?

Exploring the Brook

Pond Sensory Table
Pond Sensory Table | Source

Trout Fry

Young Brook Trout
Young Brook Trout | Source

Brook Trout Sensory Table

Gather some plastic animals that would live in or around a brook.

The beaver might create a pond for the Brook Trout to swim in. The heron will be poised on a rock ready to gobble up a trout or two. The duck just floats on the surface completely ignoring the Brook Trout while the river otter playfully dives under the surface and snatches his next meal, a delicious Brook Trout.

Realistic play helps children review and study what we have been learning about Brook Trout and their habitat.

Social Studies

Gone Fishing (Sandpiper)
Gone Fishing (Sandpiper)

A young boy and his dad go fishing. Delight in the simple text that encourages children to follow along and begin to read the words. The one-line descriptions are not written in complete sentences but offer the opportunity to introduce the concept and start writing our own description of the illustrations.


Gone Fishing for Vermont Brook Trout - Learning to write complete sentences with a Brook Trout theme

The story of a boy and his daddy going fishing told in only 180 words. Imagine the excitement of getting up before dawn to go fishing with your dad! The simple text and lovable illustrations are a delightful introduction to the brook trout theme and serve as an introduction to our unit study on Brook Trout.

Male Brook Trout during Mating Season

Trout Fly-Fishing in America
Trout Fly-Fishing in America | Source

Protecting Brook Trout

Brook Trout, also know as Square Tails, have thrived in Vermont's mountain streams for centuries. Only with the destruction of forests and pollution of the water have their numbers dwindled.

By caring for our forests, fields and streams we can provide a healthy environment for future generations of Brook Trout swimming in our Vermont waterways.

Repopulating the Streams

Brook Trout - Brook Trout Independent Learning Centers

Create a dramatic Brook Trout play center on the rug near the book shelf.

  • Children can pretend to be fish swimming in a stream or river.
  • Other children could pretend to be an otter, an osprey or a fisherman trying to eat them.
  • Blocks or beanbags to be food that the trout are eating.


How to Draw a Trout!

Drawing A Fish

One of the best ways to really see a fish is to draw it. The famous naturalist, Louis Agassiz, used fish to teach his students to really see the animals they were studying.

Set up a viewing station where the children can watch the video to the right and become inspired to begin drawing fish.

Set up another station with an aquarium with several trout swimming around.

Near the aquarium, place some paper, pencils, sharpeners and erasers. As the children practice drawing fish they not only begin to notice more and more about the fish, they also fine tune their small motor stills and become more proficient at writing.

Encourage the children to make dozens of drawings. Use the drawings to illustrate books the children write about Brook Trout.


Fishin' Blues

Fish Songs

Challenge the children to find fish songs or trout songs to sing along with. Younger children can learn to read by following along with the lyrics as you run a finger or pointer under the words.

Older children can use the fish songs to discover cultures and history of times past as they analyze the words to the songs they find.

All children will learn different styles of music and come to appreciate a wider variety than they might otherwise encounter.

Finally, take your favorite fish songs and write new lyrics for them. Use your newly acquired knowledge of Brook Trout to write your songs.

Brook Trout Talk - Which Brook Trout activities have you most enjoyed?

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    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Evelyn, I'm not really into fish much, but my father-in-law is an avid fisherman and could wax lyrical about trout (and bass and...) I love your unit study articles, which provide interactive and engaging activities that make learning fun!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      oh yes there are fishermen in our family :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Learned so much here:) And, loved the trout ideas!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love Brook Trout! See the brokkie there in my picture! They are a very beatiful fish and I have been fortunate enough to have caught them in the nice state of Vermont.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      7 years ago

      "Brook Trout" always reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's "North By Northwest." I believe it's the menu item Eva Marie Saint recommends to Cary Grant when they meet on the train. It's nice to learn more about one of Vermont's state symbols.

    • sousababy profile image


      7 years ago

      I like coloring . . it is great that you have found a way to educate within a few subjects.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I would love to visit Vermont and stay in your B&B and do a little Trout Fishing in a Babbling Brook.


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