Trout Cookies

designed for the NYC and NYC Watersheds Trout in the Classroom program

made possible with funds from the Catskill Watershed Corporation in partnership with New York City Department of Environmental Protection

conceived by Veronica Rowe, TIC Teacher

    To teach students that trout have external anatomy features that are much like those of other fish.  These features are adaptations that help a trout survive in its coldwater stream habitat.  

    Trout have specific adaptations that allow them to navigate and survive their stream homes.  Every trout has eight fins, the smallest of which—the adipose fin between the dorsal fin and tail fin—is unique to salmonids (trout, salmon, and char).  As they navigate the stream, with these fins, they also use their lateral line to help them sense the location of rocks, other fish, and predators.  When a predator such as a bird or bear is near, trout rely on their spots and parr marks to help camouflage them among the plants and rocks of a stream bottom.  Trout may also hide among rocks and plants to wait for prey.  They especially love aquatic insects that float along the surface of the water; trout are always watching for these bugs by using their eyes which specialize in looking up and out. And as they go about their daily lives, their slime coating helps protect their skin and scales, and keeps the fish healthy.

image of a trout (or classroom fingerlings) for reference, cookies, icing, plastic knives or spoons, wax paper or paper towels, candy for decorating (suggestions: red licorice = lateral line, mini chocolate candies = spots&eyes)


  1. In small groups or as a whole class, have students look at an image of a trout.   (Older students can do this research themselves.)
  2. As they look, tell students to identify and notice the various external features: the eight fins, eyes, any spots, the parr marks, and the lateral line.
  3. Explain to students that these adaptations are a lot like adaptations of other fish, and ask why these different features are useful (see above).
  4. Give each student a trout-shaped cookie and decorating supplies. 
  5. Ask students to decorate their trout cookie, keeping in mind the recent discussion of various adaptations.  
  6. Students who finish quickly can make a second cookie for the principal, guidance counselor, their parents, or their trout buddies in another grade.

    Enjoy snack time!  Ask the students how the candy or icing is like the trout feature it represents.  What other materials would they use to make cookies?  What if you asked them to make a trout sandwich?

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