Keywords: habitat, spawning, aquatic, predators, carnivore, headwaters; Lesson Plan Grade Level: seventh grade science class; Total Time Required for Lesson: Playing game is 42 minutes. one class period for modified version, 3 class periods if research time to prepare rummy game is included; Setting: classroom and library (if research is included)

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will develop a knowledge base of PA game fish species characteristics.
  • Students will compare and contrast components of PA game fish environments.
  • Students will reinforce and acquire new library research skills.

Materials Needed

  • 8 Fish Fact Rummy card sets
  • 8 white business envelope for each Rummy card set
  • 4 large wall charts (easel paper) for developed Fish Fact Rummy Grid (Appendix A)

State Standards Addressed: E & E: Watershed and Wetlands (4.1C.7); Agriculture and Society (4.4C.7); Ecosystems and Their Interactions (4.6A.7); Threatened, Endangered, and Extinct Species (4.7.7, this standard set may be addressed if Fish Fact Rummy extensions beyond PA Game Fish are developed.)

Teaching Model: Cooperative Learning

Subject Covered: (aquatic) biology

Topics Covered: Pennsylvania Game Fish, fish habitat, spawning, species identification


Library Research Component

  1. The format is based on a seventh grade class size of 25-28 students; allow two 42-minute class periods.
  2. Students will work in groups of two or three. Library research assignment will consist of reference work using field guides, Pennsylvania Fishes, and Web sites to acquire information on the following Pennsylvania Game Fish: striped bass, brook trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, and walleye. The following categories will be required: water habitat, spawning locale, water temperature, food, and distinguishing characteristics. Other information may be collected for a future activity extension, including a classroom presentation.

In-Class Preparation

  1. Students will work first as a class sharing information and developing a grid (Appendix A) , then in groups of two or three to prepare classroom-sized grids or "cards" for one fish they researched; allow one 42-minute class period.
  2. Following acquisition of information, the class will develop a grid illustrating the above components (Appendix A, Fish Fact Rummy Information Grid) .
  3. Two groups will transfer the grid information to sheets of large easel-sized paper (two created by each group) so four information grids may be viewed in the classroom when the rummy game is played.
  4. The remaining five groups of students will create a 3 x 4 inch "card" for each of the five components for one of the assigned fish. Each group's"cards" may then be reproduced, cut out, and glued on 3 x 4 inch index cards so eight rummy sets may be made. An accurate illustration of each fish may be acquired by using the PA Fish and Boat Commission Pennsylvania Fishes Identification Guide Brochure. The illustration sizes are easily adapted to gluing on 3 x 4 inch index cards. Several guides may be placed around the room during play for accurate color representation. This will supply a 6th card for each component "set."

Playing the Game

  1. Students will play in groups of two or three, using the Classroom Information Grid Sheets (Appendix A) and prepared index card "decks"; allow one 42-minute class period. The rummy game will be based on luck, but students will acquire knowledge and learn characteristics of these game fish while playing.

Fish Fact Rummy Rules

  1. The object of the game is for a student to get a complete "set" of components from the Fish Fact Information Grid for a particular fish, i.e.., a complete vertical column (Appendix A) . The game ends when all complete sets have been made. The player with the most complete sets is declared the winner. Each group playing in the class will thus have a winner.
  2. Begin the game by a dealer giving five (six with picture) cards to each player in the group. (All groups in the room will be playing simultaneously.) The first player may discard an unwanted card face up next to the remaining deck, and select a new one. Play continues as players choose to select from the new deck and discard, or from the discard pile and discard until all complete "sets" have been formed.
  3. Following initial play, winners may play winners, consolation games may be played, or groups may play groups as a "team."
  4. A game session may be repeated periodically for either a full period or partial period whenever time permits for reinforcement.
  5. Sharing information: Groups may share what they have learned, by using a group presentation format or by having a class discussion on each fish with lead off statements such as, "I find it interesting that. . . . "


On a given day, unannounced, have students play Fish Fact Rummy without the posting of the large Fish Fact Grids around the room. The teacher will circulate and observe play and conversations during play to assess the students' familiarity with the selected fish studied. Ease of discussion and accuracy of information should be indicative of the level of learning that has taken place.


"I can tell by your involvement today that we have acquired some knowledge of some of Pennsylvania's common Game Fish. Hopefully, those of you who fish with your family will be able to use some of the information you learned during our research and on game days. Who knows? Those of you who do not fish might find a new interest learning more about the varied aquatic environments we have in our state as you hike, boat, or just explore for pleasure. If you liked this way of learning facts, please let me know your thoughts, and perhaps we will be able to apply it to other areas of study. We can also add other categories to our present game, such as Endangered Species in Pennsylvania, and make our present game more challenging."


PA Fish and Boat Commission (2000). Pennsylvania Fishes. Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Educational Media Section.

PA Fish & Boat Commission (2001). Pennsylvania Fishes Identification Guide (Brochure). Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commission Educational Media Section.

Council for Environmental Education (1983). Habitat Rummy in Project WILD . Gaithersburg, Md.: Council for Environmental Education.


Judy Tormey, State College Area School District, Mt. Nittany M.S.