Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America

Shad In Schools - Wishes of Fishes Activity

American Shad

Shad in the Schools - Food Web Activity - Science 1.10, 3.08, Language Arts 2.01, 3.02, 4.01

© Burk & Associates, LLC for the USFWS

Purpose: In this activity, students will use both artistic ability and research skills to learn about shad and prepare a graphic on American shad to share with their class or school. This interdisciplinary activity links science with reading, writing and art.

There are two ways to do this activity:

  • Students find one fact that they like about shad and write it on a silhouette of the shad. This silhouette with fun fact can be displayed on the wall to create a school of shad as a part of a class mural of shad facts.
  • Students can develop four questions and answers about shad and display them on a four part square or quilt piece. One question and answer per square. These squares can be combined on a wall to create a "shad quilt".

Duration: 45 minutes to one hour


  • Shad Silhouette
  • Shad Graphic Organizer:
    Directions for the Graphic Organizer: Use the graphic organizer to organize the information the students gather about American shad. Have students write facts about the American shad on each of the four parts of the graphic organizer sheet. Some of these facts could include: size, habitat, restoration efforts, etc.


Shad Silhouette Mural:

  • Have students read background information by choosing readings from the Articles on American shad in the Resources Section of this activity, or by doing web research.
  • Hand out the silhouette of an American shad and the graphic organizer for an American shad. (Students should use this organizer to record four facts that interest them about the fish.)
  • Have students list their favorite fact about American shad on the silhouette.
  • Display the silhouettes together to make a shad mural.

Shad Patchwork Quilt:

  • Hand out the shad quilt piece and graphic organizer for American Shad. Students will use this organizer to record four facts that interest them about shad.
  • Show students how the shad quilt piece works by folding down the four corner flaps.
  • Have students read background information on shad by choosing readings from the Articles on Shad in the Resources Section of this activity, or by doing web research on American shad.
  • Have students list up to four facts about shad biology or life history that interest them on their Graphic Organizer for Shad sheet.
  • Have students create a question around each of the four facts they discover about shad. Students should then list each question on the outside flap of their quilt piece. You can have students place their answers on the reverse side of each flap. Students can then draw a scene about shad on the center square under the flaps.
  • Mount all of the pieces on the wall near your tank or in the hallway in the front of your class to create a shad patchwork quilt. This display can be used to educate the rest of the school on your shad project.

Optional class activity: Once students have completed their research on American Shad use a blackboard or smartboard to record each fact that the students' discovered. Assign each student a fact and have them expand on this fact by writing a paragraph. Have each student fill in their shad silhouette with this paragraph. Display them together to create a mural. Use the mural to teach other students about the shad project.

Extension Activity: Plan a presentation to your school or to your local elementary school with your "Wishes of Fishes" mural. This activity provides an ideal opportunity for middle school students to host an outreach event for elementary students. Through visual displays, student presentations, and activities, younger students can learn directly from older students. These middle-school mentors have acquired first-hand knowledge. By sharing it with others, their learning is reinforced and pride is instilled. In turn, this interaction can inspire enthusiasm in younger students for the exciting middle-school adventure that lies ahead for them, and pique an interest in conservation science at a highly receptive age.

Last Updated: August 6, 2015