Aquariums are no longer just a basement hobby enjoyed by a select few; their appeal has extended to office workers, restaurateurs and those who are looking for a beautiful home, with a new found appreciation for the beauty and tranquility of aquariums having entered the public consciousness.
As a parent, you might also have seen their potential to act as a fantastic hands-on-teaching tool in the classroom and at home. Setting up an aquarium provides children of all ages with the opportunity to learn directly through real-life experiences rather than just abstract principles. Caring for an aquarium kindles a child’s sense of responsibility and achievement, and teaches them that there are consequences to the way they behave, and the things they do and don’t do. A desire to care for another living being also fosters a genuine desire to learn in order to benefit another being with their knowledge and expertise. As a parent or teacher, an aquarium offers you a unique opportunity to educate a receptive audience in a fun and interactive manner. If you’re interested in encouraging and developing an interest in reading, writing, critical thinking and science, consider setting up a special ‘teaching aquarium’ in your home.
Some children read voraciously, but others tend to have more ‘selective’ reading habits, which means that if you want them to read, then you have to find something that they’re interested in for them to read about. If you can get your children passionate about fish keeping, then there are a wide variety of aquarium-related topics for them to research and read about, such as fish species, plants and reefs. This can help to foster good reading habits in children who may not otherwise be interested in reading.
Ask your children to write reports or daily journal entries about the fish in their aquarium. For younger children, get them to write to the fish. Slightly older pupils can be made to write letters to aquatic experts with their questions, which you can then research together. These are all great ways to sharpen grammar and writing skills.
Developing Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills
Get your children/pupils to keep a log of data from their aquarium, such as measurements of water temperature, pH, and ammonia and nitrate levels. By charting or graphing the results they can look for trends which coincide with events in the aquarium. Even sad events, such as the loss of a fish, can be an opportunity to discuss possible causes and effects. You can encourage a proactive response to their upset by looking for preventions and ways to improve existing conditions, stopping it from happening again. The educational opportunities are endless.
Biology, chemistry, ecology and physics are just a few of the sciences involved in aquarium keeping. If you home-school your children, use a classroom aquarium to teach your children about specific topics such as fish anatomy, or more complex areas such as the food chain, the water cycle or the nitrogen cycle.
Bringing Children and Parents Together
Make your child’s fish-keeping experience fun as well as educational, to increase their interest in it. A great way to do this is to let them decorate the aquarium themselves, exploring their creative side. Your children/students will not only develop learning skills, but a passion which makes them eager to orate and discuss their interest with family members and friends.
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