45 minutes

Students will compare and contrast features between a whale (a mammal) and a whale shark (a fish).


This lesson is intended to be used during the study of the book Jinormous Jack. It assumes the lesson Welcome back Jack has been completed.

This lesson also requires you to ‘research’ characteristics of whale sharks (cartilaginous fish) and whales. Some suggested texts may be found in the ‘Recommended Resources’ section (below).

Further information about whale sharks can be found in the Fact Sheet: Whale Shark.

Student Worksheet: What’s the difference? provides a graphic organiser for collating the information learned about whales and whale sharks. You may wish for students to complete this individually, in small groups or as a class. Printing at A3 size is recommended if being completed in groups.

The Lesson: What’s a Fish? (Year 1) may precede or follow this one to further knowledge about the characteristics of fish.

Western Australian curriculum

Science Science understanding Biological sciences ACSSU017
Science Science inquiry skills Processing and analysing data and information ACSIS027
Science Science inquiry skills Communicating ACSIS029
English Literacy Interacting with others ACELY1656
English Language Text structure and organisation ACELA1447



  1. Engage students in a shared reading of the story Jinormous Jack. Following the reading, recap the conversation held between Jack and Joe about the fact that Jack is a fish, not a whale.
  2. Discuss the features that Jack said made him a fish (gills and tall tail). What were the features of a whale that he identified? (blowhole and flat tail)
  3. Engage students in a discussion about any other features that they may be aware of, specific to whale sharks or whales. Are there any features that are the same? You may find having a few informative books on marine mammals and fish handy at this point.
  4. Using Student Worksheet: What’s the difference? explain to students (if required) how to distribute information in a Venn Diagram. Allow time for students to complete the worksheet to compare the similarities and differences between a whale shark and a whale and assist as necessary.
  5. Discuss student answers.
Student Worksheet

What’s the difference?

Recommended Resources

Barnes, N. 2015 Whale sharks. Abdo Kids, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Burham, B. 2001 The whale shark. The Rosen Publishing Group, New York.

Rob, D. 2016 The whale sharks of Ningaloo: activities and cool facts. Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Johnson, R. 2017 First Facts: Mammals. Steve Parish Publishing, Queensland.

Parish, S. 2008 Amazing Facts about Australian Marine Fishes. Steve Parish Publishing, Queensland.

Riggs, K. 2015 Whales. Creative Education and Creative Paperbacks, Mankato, Minneapolis.

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Bony Fishes, https://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/bony-fish

Additional Resources

Lesson: Discovering Ningaloo Reef

Lesson: How big is jinormous?

Lesson: What’s a fish? (Year 1)

Poster: Bony fish – external anatomy

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Bottlenose Dolphins, https://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/bottlenose-dolphins


fish anatomy, features, characteristics, whale shark, whale, jinormous jack