Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Sea Life Projects, Part 1: "Fish or Not" Poster—with FREE Download!

This is a guest blog post from Susanna Westby of   Whimsy Workshop , and it includes a FREE download with worksheets! See the bottom of the post for the link to download, and check back frequently for more great classroom-tested ideas!   If you'd like to see her other contributions to this blog, click here!

Hello! I am Susanna from   Whimsy Workshop Teaching   back again to talk to you about a new favorite series in my classroom:   Underwater Encounters by Elizabeth Cook with photos by Robert Yin .   As I moved to a higher grade recently, I had to find text that was more challenging, yet still with engaging pictures. Our theme is Sea Life, so this entire series was the foundation of our writing. 

Today I’m going to share an activity I did with a book from this series called   Fish, Not Fish .   The book gives an overview of sea creatures that are classified as either fish or not fish, despite the fact that “fish” might be in the name. My students found this to be an interesting approach to studying sea animals and were very interested to see if the animals were actually fish or not. 

After reading the book aloud and discussing the images, we created lists to categorize animals that were “Fish” or “Not Fish.” Questions that arose from the book were discussed:

“Why are they named fish if they are not?”

“Who names the fish?”

“What makes something a fish and something not a fish? How can you tell?”

The next project was to create an interactive poster.   Shapes of each sea creature were made and colored, and attached to the poster with a tab at the top so it could be flipped up to reveal writing underneath.

For example, the starfish shape was attached to the poster and students wrote: “STARFISH Is it a fish?”   When the starfish was flipped up, the answer was below: “No, a starfish is not a fish because...”. Students referred to the book to find these answers.

Once we had finished and shared with peers, we took our posters to a kindergarten class and let them explore our posters. The kindergarten class loved guessing and then lifting the animal to find the answer, and great conversation resulted! This was a great way to reinforce learning for the older students.

I have attached the animal shapes as a free download if you’d like to try this with your class!


Susanna teaches K–3 students in Vancouver, Canada. She has taught for over 20 years and lives with her husband and two sons. You can find her teacher tips over at her blog,   Whimsy Workshop Teaching.


Download your free "Fish or Not" poster packet by clicking the worksheet image below! For more information on the Underwater Encounters series,   click here   or click the images below to download a series information sheet with highlights and key features.