Learning about Fish

Food literacy for young children is all about understanding where our food comes from. Fish are an important source of nutrients for people all around the world, especially those that live in coastal areas. Although there are more than 30,000 different species of fish, we only eat a small number of species, some of which we catch in oceans, lakes and rivers and others that we grow on fish farms.

What are fish?

Fish are animals that live in water and breathe using gills, instead of lungs like people. They are also different from humans and other mammals because they do not have limbs with digits (arms with hands, legs with feet) and instead they move or swim using their fins and tails. Fish vary greatly in size from tiny herring, which weigh only a pound, to large whale sharks that can weigh 150 times more than a large human.

Here are some activity ideas to learn about fish:

•    Visit an aquarium, fish farm or hatchery. In the Lower Mainland, the Vancouver Aquarium is a world-class destination for learning about life under the sea and smaller ones can be found in communities like Ucluelet and Sidney. Hatcheries can be visited at many rivers in areas like Little Qualicum, Cowichan, Abbotsford, Summerland and Clearwater.
•    Eat fish! Try different kinds like salmon, tuna, sardines, cod or halibut. Choose sustainable fish whenever possible to protect endangered species and keep our oceans, lakes and rivers prospering. Childcare facilities with 8+ children should check with their Licensing Officer about what is needed to serve food.
•    Play ‘going fishing’. Create fishing poles from sticks and string, affixing a magnet to the end. Cut out paper or cardboard fish and give them a paperclip mouth that will stick to the magnet. This activity helps children to build coordination.
•    Learn about fish from an elder. For many indigenous communities in BC, fish like salmon and halibut, are a traditional food that have been relied upon for thousands of years and play an important cultural role. 
•    Read a book about fish. What’s it Like to be a Fish by Wendy Pfeffer teaches children about where fish live and how they are adapted to live underwater.

For more ideas and resources

Learn more about different fish species, how they are harvested and if they are sustainable at Ocean Wise .