Crayfish Investigations

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This activity has learners interacting with live crayfish, but could be adapted for a variety of similar hardy and interesting organisms. Instructions are provided for facilitating free and guided observations, including how to make explicit things learners wonder and notice, and sharing them by posting them on index cards. There is extensive background about how to buy and maintain crayfish, along with general "Crayfish Information Cards" for learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 clear plastic shoe box or similar aquarium
  • clean, dechlorinated water to fill plastic
  • shoeboxes about 5 – 10 cm deep
  • 1 crayfish
  • I Notice/I Wonder/Investigation board
  • 100 colored index cards (three colors)
  • colored markers
  • 1 copy of Crayfish Information Cards (in PDF)
  • Various materials for conducting crayfish investigations (e.g. sand, gravel, various-sized/colored/shaped clay pots, pipes, and/or containers for hiding, tubifex worms, fish flakes, bits of meat or fish, lettuce, large squares cut from black plastic garbage bags, large squares cut from white plastic trash bags, vegetable bags, strawberry baskets, mirrors, flash lights, blocks or other barriers, etc.)
  • Notebook with copies of Investigation Journal (in PDF)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Animals


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, NSF OCE-0731338