Chesapeake Bay Field Office
Northeast Region

American shad by Duane Raver, USFWS

Shad Activities For Students in the Chesapeake Bay

Welcome to the American shad activities for the Chesapeake Bay. These activities were developed to enhance the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL’s), Washington D.C. Standards, and Maryland Content Standards in several areas of science curriculum, and to help connect children with nature. A listing of standards covered by these activities is included.

While working through these lessons, students perform such hands-on activities as:

  • Building a food web of the Chesapeake Bay to learn about the role of native fish within the Bay's ecosystem.
  • Using GIS-generated maps to calculate which dams in the Chesapeake Bay should receive a fish passage.
  • Participating in activities that are part of the work of a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Scientific journaling, book and article reviews, and creation of art.
  • Writing persuasive essays that promote restoring native fish to the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Participating in field activities that help restore the water quality of local rivers, thereby benefiting the aquatic ecosystems in which native fish live.
  • Raising American shad through the Schools in Schools program.

If you are raising American shad in the classroom, these activities will provide a more in-depth view of the fish you are working so hard to save. However, you don’t need to raise shad in the classroom for your students to gain knowledge or become excited about protecting your local watershed and its inhabitants. Through these activities, students will master curriculum concepts, learn about a career in conservation, and receive experience in the field.

The activities are based on a real restoration project to restore American shad to the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Through Living Classroom’s Schools in Schools program, students have been part of the success in bringing American shad back to the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. Students raise shad in the classroom and release them into the rivers. They also participate in schoolyard and river greening projects that curb the stormwater run-off that negatively impacts the rivers and, thereby, the American shad. 

The following links will take you to activities and resources that you can use with your class:

Food Web Activity (upper elementary) :Investigating an Important Link. Students build and trace energy through a Chesapeake Bay food web.

Food Web Activity (middle school): Investigating an Important Link. Students build and trace energy through a Chesapeake Bay food web.

Fish Passage Activity Using GIS Generated Maps: Students use GIS maps to plan fish passage for shad.

Wishes of Fishes Art Activity:
 Students research American shad life history and integrate their findings into artwork to educate other students and the public

Non-fiction Reading and Journaling Activity

Hands on Activity

Resources Section

Standards Correlations and Outcomes

Evaluation Form




© Burk & Associates, LLC 2010 for USFWS

Last updated: January 28, 2011