Prior to the trip, the class researched the types of fish at East Lake, the habitat of the fish, the behaviors of the fish and the bait they would need to catch the fish. They also compared the properties of the different fish and researched how to handle the fish safely.


To the teacher, it was a perfect opportunity for project-based learning; to the students, it was a fun fishing trip and a day away from school. Students in Kathy Murphy’s fifth-grade class at Walton 21st Century Rural Life Center were able to convince Murphy and principal Natise Vogt that a class fishing trip to Harvey County East Lake would be a rich learning opportunity, and it was.

The students, along with several volunteer chaperones, visited the lake after organizing the trip with assistance from Gander Mountain and East Lake park staff. Prior to the trip, the class researched the types of fish at East Lake, the habitat of the fish, the behaviors of the fish and the bait they would need to catch the fish. They also compared the properties of the different fish and researched how to handle the fish safely.

The students also researched state regulations regarding the trip (license, limit on the catch, size of fish) and learned about worms, their benefits to the soil and their characteristics/properties.

Mapping routes to school from their homes using Mapquest online mapping site, the students were able to bring their fishing poles, which are not allowed on the school bus, to school. They also learned how to tie a clinch knot to attach the hook to the line.

Using persuasive writing skills, they sent letters to Gander Mountain and obtained eight dozen worms and poles to use on the trip. Now, the students are writing thank you letters to Gander Mountain and to the parents and other volunteers who accompanied them on the trip. Following the trip, an additional writing assignment was given to write a narrative story about their experience.

In one trip to the lake, the Walton fifth graders learned more than just how to fish, they learned how to read, write, conduct research, follow complicated directions, and more.