Salmon Life Cycle

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SWBAT identify and describe the stages of the salmon life cycle.

Big Idea

A salmon's life cycle includes the following stages: egg, alevin, fry, smolt, adult, and spawner.

Warm Up

10 minutes

I begin this lesson by asking students to identify animal life cycles with which they are familiar. My students study the life cycle of the butterfly in kindergarten, frogs in second grade, and plants in third grade, so they often note these in our brief discussion. As students identify animal life cycles, I ask them to describe the way that the animal changes in each part of the cycle. I also ask them to name the part of the cycle if possible. 

I inform the students that there are 6 stages in the salmon's life cycle and that each stage has its own name. I ask if students know any of the stages of the salmon life cycle and record these on the white board.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

I then distribute the salmon life cycle graphic organizer to each student. I name each stage of the life cycle and show images of each stage. As I display the images, I describe the characteristics of a salmon in that stage of the cycle. I provide time for the students to draw and write about each life cycle stage. A completed student sample of the graphic organizer can be found here.

After each child has completed the graphic organizer, I teach them the salmon life cycle song. This song is catchy and helps students remember the specific vocabulary associated with the salmon life cycle. A video of the salmon life cycle song can be found here.


10 minutes

I close this lesson by asking students to create their own life cycle model. An example of a student's model is here. I use this exit task as a formative assessment to determine each child's understanding of the salmon life cycle.