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Lesson Plan - Salmonids in the classroom - Primary

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Download the complete Salmonids in the Classroom Primary PDF

Prescribed learning outcomes and curriculum organizers

English language arts (K - 1)

  • comprehend and respond (comprehension)
  • communicate ideas and information (knowledge of language)
  • communicate ideas and information (composing and creating)
  • communicate ideas and information (improving communications)
  • communicate ideas and information (presenting and valuing)
  • self and society (working together)
  • self and society (building community)

English language arts (2 - 3)

  • comprehend and respond (comprehension)
  • communicate ideas and information (knowledge of language)
  • communicate ideas and information (composing and creating)
  • communicate ideas and information (presenting and valuing)
  • self and society (working together)

Social studies (K - 1)

  • society and culture
  • environment

Social studies (2 - 3)

  • environment

Math (K - 1)

  • statistics and Probability (data analysis)
  • shape and space (measurement)

Math (2 - 3)

  • statistics and Probability (data analysis)
  • shape and space (measurement)
  • patterns and relationships

Science (K - 1)

Applications of science

  • safely carry out instructions and procedures involving a small number of steps
  • collaborate with others in scientific investigations
  • suggest possible interpretations for a set of observations
  • describe the similarities and differences between simple objects
  • suggest questions for investigations
  • handle equipment and materials safely

Plant and animal characteristics

  • describe the characteristics of a variety of plants
  • collaborate with others in the care of a plant or animal
  • describe the appearance and behaviour of a variety of animals
  • determine the requirements of healthy plants and healthy animals
  • identify similarities and differences among animal species

Plant and animal life cycles

  • identify the stages in the life cycle of a plant and of a pet or other animal
  • compare the life cycle of an animal hatched from an egg with one born from the mother

Science (2 - 3)

Applications of science

  • conduct simple tests and describe observations
  • formulate questions to guide observation and investigations
  • use a variety of measuring instruments to gather accurate information
  • identify patterns and groupings to draw conclusions from information
  • communicate scientific observations to peers, teachers, and family
  • construct models to represent ideas or concepts
  • describe the ways people in the community use science
  • use a variety of science equipment safely

Plants in the environment

  • demonstrate a knowledge of how plants take in water, nutrients, and light

Animals in the environment

  • compare and contrast different types of animal life cycles
  • compare and contrast plant and animal life cycles
  • describe structures that enable animals to survive in different environments
  • demonstrate a knowledge of what animals need to survive
  • explain how animals interact with each other

Support may be available

Contact your local Stream to Sea Education Coordinator or Community Advisor or phone 604-666-6614 to find out if an Education Coordinator in your area assists with this activity.

A teacher's resource for studying the biology, habitat and stewardship of pacific salmon

This learning resource, which focuses on salmon, biology, and stewardship, encourages an ecological approach, integrating science with social studies. Knowledge of salmon biology and habitat are viewed as building blocks toward a stewardship ethic. Stewardship means "making informed decisions and taking appropriate actions to protect and conserve all plants and animals who share our planet." And stewardship is one of the building blocks of a sustainable community where the economy, the environment and society are all taken into consideration when decisions are made. In short, this resource is about teaching kids how to "take care in our own lives so that salmon thrive!"

Whether small or large, class projects based on salmon have the potential to engage students in stewardship and sustainability. Studying a local creek, raising salmon in an incubator, or touring a watershed, are just a few of the projects that your class or school can undertake to make a difference for salmon and for us all!

Unit 1. Building vocabulary and knowledge

SIC unit 1 image


The class reviews what students know about salmon and prepares for activities to learn more.

The big idea

Students learn basic vocabulary necessary for studying salmon, and identify what they know, wonder and want to learn about salmon.

Key words

Basic: salmon, fish, egg, alevin, fry, smolt, adult, spawner, life cycle

Unit 2. Life cycle and habitat

SIC unit 2 image


The class reviews the life cycle of familiar plants and animals to identify their life cycles and to see how organisms relate to their environment at different stages in their life cycles.

The big idea

All living things have a life cycle that is related to their needs and their habitat.

Key words

Basic: alevin, air, water, food, life, bean seed, egg, salmon, root, stem, leaf, life cycle, stage

Unit 3. Salmon anatomy



The class identifies the body parts of a fish and compares them to human body parts. They see how fish shape, skin, scales and gills help salmon live in water.

The big idea

Fish, which are physically different from human beings, are suited to their watery environment.

Key words

Basic: head, mouth, eyes, nostrils, gills, body, fins, tail, skin, scales

Advanced: pectoral, pelvic, dorsal, anal, adipose, lateral line

Unit 4. Salmon eggs

Salmon eggs


The class examines the parts of a bean seed and a chicken egg, and compares them to a salmon egg. They use the poster and an information sheet, and make a model of a redd to identify what salmon eggs need to survive.

The big idea

The egg contains a developing salmon. It needs certain elements in a protected environment to survive.

Key words

Basic: redd, yolk, egg white, hatch, gravel, shell, stream, oxygen

Unit 5. Salmon alevins

Salmon alevins


The class compares a bean seed and a bag lunch with the yolk sac of an alevin. They use the poster and an information sheet to identify what salmon alevin need to survive and how people affect alevin habitat.

The big idea

An alevin hatches from the egg and continues to grow by using food from the egg yolk.

Key words

Basic: alevin, yolk sac, hatch, egg wall, wiggle

Advanced: embryo

Unit 6. Salmon fry

Salmon fry


The class uses the poster and an information sheet to identify where salmon fry come from and how they get food. The students test how air helps fry float in water and how protective colouration helps them hide.

The big idea

Fry swim and search for food in their stream or lake habitat.

Key words

Basic: fry (note that the plural is also fry), Parr marks, camouflage

Advanced: predator, swim bladder

Unit 7. Salmon smolts

Salmon smolt


The class uses the poster and an information sheet to identify where salmon smolts come from and how they live in an estuary. The students act as predators and prey to simulate survival and test how salt water affects cells.

The big idea

Smolts migrate to the estuary before leaving to swim in the ocean.

Key words

Basic: salt water, fresh water, smolt, ocean, logs, dams, dyke

Advanced: hazard, polluted, estuary, factory

Unit 8. Adult salmon

Adult salmon


The class uses the poster and an information sheet to identify where adult salmon come from and where they travel in the ocean. The students simulate fishing and the impact of predation on salmon, discuss salmon migration and test scent as a means of identifying a home area.

The big idea

Adult salmon travel long distances in the ocean. People fish for salmon in different ways; some people catch many salmon, while others catch fewer. Surviving salmon return to their home rivers.

Key words

Basic: adult, ocean, school, fishers, fishing boats, home stream, scent

Unit 9. Salmon spawners

Salmon spawner


The class uses the poster and an information sheet to identify how spawners leave the ocean and return to their home stream or lake. They examine changes of appearance in people and salmon, test how a redd protects eggs, and recycle paper salmon.

The big idea

Spawners travel upriver to their home stream or lakeshore. Females lay eggs and males fertilize eggs. Salmon die after spawning and their carcasses return essential nutrients to the water and forest ecosystems.

Key words

Basic: spawner, redd, female, male

Advanced: fertilize

Unit 10. Salmon life cycle goes on

SIC Unit 10 drawing


The class uses a game to review the salmon life cycle and discusses activities they can undertake to help more salmon survive.

The big idea

If people make careful decisions and satisfy their needs without taking away from future generations, they will help take care of salmon.

Unit 11. Salmon habitat studies

SIC Unit 11 drawing


The class researches features that make a stream or lake attractive to salmon and describes what they would expect to see on a field trip to a salmon habitat. They take observations on a field trip and discuss whether or not salmon would like the site.

The big idea

A stream or lake may be a salmon's home for part of its life cycle. Streams and lakes with certain features are attractive to salmon.

Key words

Basic: stream, streambed, stream bank, lake, gravel, riffle, pool, habitat

Advanced: polluted, garbage

Recommended additional resources and optional enrichment activities

(E.g. Web-sites, Teaching Guides, Student Reading, Videos/Audio-tapes, Posters and Brochures, Field Trips)

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