Student Activities

Freeing the Elwha: "Getting to Know Salmonids in the Elwha River" Research Activity

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade


Students will be introduced to the wild salmonid species of the Elwha River. After watching a power point presentation on the anadromous life styles of pacific salmonids, students will work in groups to research. Then students will compose a presentation on the lifestyle of a specific species of anadromous fish found in the Elwha River: Chinook, chum, coho, pink, sockeye, steelhead, bull trout, or Dolly Varden. Student groups will then apply their knowledge by constructing a model healthy river habitat in which their species, along with other species of salmon, can grow and thrive.

  • Alevin (al-uh-vuhn)A newly hatched fish in the larval stage, which remain in the redd area and feed off their yolk sac.
  • Anadromous- ([uh-nad-ruh-muh s)A fish that is born in freshwater, migrates to the ocean to spend its adult life, and returns to freshwater to spawn.
  • Fry- A juvenile fish that has absorbed its yolk sac and begins to hunt or feed on its own.
  • Oncorhynchus (on-kor-IN-cus) – Latin name for the genus that includes salmonids
  • Redd- A depression in sand or gravel where salmon deposit their eggs and then partially bury them.
  • Salmonids (sal-MON-ids) – salmon and the other species related to them, such as trout and whitefish.
  • Smolt- A juvenile fish (for salmon, the stage where they enter salt water).
  • Spawn - The process by which an organism produces others of its kind.

Additional Resources

For struggling learners:

Salmon coloring book visually and simply explains salmon life cycles.

The Lesson plan in the link below contains a "Something Fishy: Life Cycle of a Salmon Game"


Explore the shellfish associated with the Elwha River:

Just for fun:

Salmon dissection game

Coloring. Mazes, dot-to-dot fin stuff:
Many salmon games:




Download Salmon Powerpoint

Download Salmonid Research Activity Materials

Last updated: September 16, 2015