Fish and Aquatic Conservation

Teaching Kids About Fish Migration

Designing Fish-Friendly Culverts (and bridges) is an environmental education science lesson created for educators of grades 5 – 8 to teach kids about fish passage. This hands-on lesson can be adapted to other grade levels as well. All materials are easy to download and public domain which means that this information is available to the public as a whole, and therefore not subject to copyright.

Introduction to Fish Migration

Fish need to move! They need to find food, find places to spawn, to hide or rest - and they need aquatic connections between all of these places. Were you aware that over 6-million man-made barriers, in the U.S. alone, keep fish from getting to where they need to go to grow and survive?

Discover why fish migrate, learn about barriers to their migration, and how to make a barrier more fish-friendly.

As you review the materials, consider adapting the lesson using migratory fish found in the waterways near you.

Learn more about the fish where you live by visiting your state's fish and game website.

For Teachers and Non-Formal Educators

Designing Fish-Friendly Culverts (and bridges) is a hands-on lesson to help teach youth about the amazing lives of migratory fish, and how barriers to their migration impact their survival. Upon completion of the lesson, students will have designed a fish-friendly culvert and demonstrated how their design will help fish thrive.

Key Issues/Concepts Include: Fish Passage, Fish Migration, Habitat Fragmentation, Aquatic Connectivity and Environmental Sustainability

Grade Levels: 5 – 8
Time Required: 1 – 2 Hours
Lesson Components:

Correlations to:


Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

  • Disciplinary Core Idea, ETS1.A,Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
  • Disciplinary Core Idea, ESS3.C,Human Impacts on Earth Systems
  • Disciplinary Core Idea, LS2.A,Interdependent Relations in Ecosystems

Lesson and materials created for Fish and Aquatic Conservation’s National Fish Passage Program. The Program provides assistance in removal or bypassing artificial barriers that impede the movement of fish and contribute to their decline.

an image of a fish friendly-culvert designed  by students
A fish-friendly culvert designed by students. Photo credit: Sara Anderson/Wonders of Wildlife

Additional Education Resources

How can you help migratory fish? Use these additional products from the Migration Station to learn more about fish and fish migration. And become a fish watcher! You never know what you might see.

Learn about the National Fish Passage Program and National Fish Habitat Partnership and help us reconnect aquatic habitats.

an image of fish all dressed up