One Smart Fish - Evolution & Inheritance

One Smart Fish by Christopher Wormell provides a meaningful context for learning about adaptations and evolution. The story focuses on 'one smart fish', who even though he wasn't the biggest and boldest was the cleverest.  What this fish wanted more than anything else was to walk upon the land, so  invented something amazing – feet! This idea didn't catch on immediately but after a few hundred million years it did  and other creatures evolved until you and I got here.  This story can help to support learning about the following:

• explore how living things have changed over time and that fossils provide information about living things that inhabited the Earth millions of years ago

• recognise that living things produce offspring of the same kind, but normally offspring vary and are not identical to their parents

•  identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways and that adaptation may lead to evolution.

The rich images are equally as useful as the concepts within the story. The story begins by showing us the breadth of diversity within the fish world.  From the smallest fish to the largest shark. Very clearly the author introduces the reader to the idea that life on land evolved from the oceans, an enormous concept simply communicated. Meaning that this book is a great starting point from which children might begin to explore evolutionary change over time.

Key scientific vocab: evolution, adapted/adaptation, characteristics, vary/variation, inherit/inheritance

Other fiction books on a similar theme:

Ravenwood – Andrew Peter

The Arrival  - Shaun Tan

Our Family Tree – Lisa Westberg Peters

Dogs – Emily Gravett

What Mr Darwin Saw – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom

Dear Olly  - Michael Morpurgo

Amazing Animal Journeys  - Chris Packham

Links and Resources

Our ocean planet

This resource by Digital Explorer shows real life examples from the Southern ocean of evolution at work in a population of penguins living in Antarctica . Students will learn about the adaptations that allow penguins to survive. Missions 10 and 11 look at how modern penguins are adapted for their harsh climate and how they have changed over time. The core of this lesson is the Penguin Evolution Game, which simulates the six stages of adaptation that lead to evolution.

publication year
2010 to date

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Evolution MegaLab

Over many years snails have been adapting to their environment. In these resources children can conduct their own snail hunt and record their findings via the EvolutionMegalab website, and will receive personalised interpretations of their observations. Banded snails (Cepaea nemoralis and Cepaea hortensis) can be found in almost any part of the UK where snails are generally present. Scientists are studying banded snails in order to discover - Have shell colours and bands changed where there are fewer thrushes?Have shell colours changed with our warming climate?

This practical investigation helps children to look for signs of evolutionary change in their own environment. Snails are a good species for children to study because of their short lifespan, it means that we can see evolutionary change over shorter periods of time.

publication year
2010 to date

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Let's talk about evolution

This book, published by Millgate House Education is full of practical ideas for bringing this topic alive in your classroom. Exploring concepts such as variation,natural selection, adaptation, population change over time and evolution. The activities are simple to follow and easy to resource.
Publication date:
2015

Physical resource:
Book

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Professor Steve Jones: Variation, Evolution and Inheritance

A teachers TV clip of Professor Steve Jones working with a group of children. He gets them to create their  own simple genetic code.They investigate how they may classify and group themselves according to characteristics such as: eye colour, skin colour, tongue rolling, taste preference and finger print pattern and then produce a code to represent themselves as individuals. This clip is a useful opportunity to watch how teachers tackle the sensitive topics of skin colour and genetics. This material also  links to with the Evolution Megalab materials.

 

publication year
2010 to date

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Evolution and Natural Selection

This practical activity investigates the ways in which all living things have and are evolving based on pressures in their environment. Using different tools to model different beak shapes children are provided with different kinds of food to pick up. The children with tools best suited for picking up the food provided will end up with the most food.​ This activity works well for helping children to think about which beak shape is best suited to different food sources and links with Darwin's work on Finches.

publication year
2010 to date

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Evolution of the Whale

One smart fish tells the tale of how land mammals evolved from the water. These child friendly cartoons take the story on and show  how aquatic mammals such as whales  have evolved from land mammals.

The children can  focus in on specific evolutionary changes  from nostril to blowhole or the evolution of the forelimb from leg to flipper. A timeline game allows for further discussion as children are asked to put the animals into an evolutionary sequence.

publication year
2010 to date

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