Lesson Plan

What Do Salmon Need To Survive?

Grade Level:
Lower Elementary: Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade
Science,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
2.RI.3, 2.SL.2, 2.W.8
State Standards:
WA State Social Studies Standards 3.1.2 Understands the physical characteristics of places in the community.
Additional Standards:
NGSS 2-LS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer a question.

Essential Question

Why are salmon important to the environment, and what are the necessary water conditions required for their survival and reproduction?


Students will be able to determine if salmon raised at school will survive in a local water source by testing conditions.


In previous lessons, students have learned what salmon need to survive – such as water temperature, pH level, and what type of macroinvertebrates would be living in their habitat.
Lesson requires access to a water source i.e. stream, creek, river
Teacher will need to know how to use the pH test kit.



  • pH kit
  • Macroinvertebrate pollution tolerance identification guide
  • Ice trays
  • Paint brushes
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Water Quality for Salmon recording sheet
  • Clipboards
  • Pencils
  • Thermometers
  • Pre-made posters with guided question at top and divided into quadrants

Lesson Hook/Preview

Possible questions to link with overall unit-
Why are salmon important to the environment?
How were salmon important to the first Coast Salish people?
Why do think are we raising salmon?
If our stream was not a proper habitat for salmon, what and how could you change it?


  1. Watch salmon song video.
  2. Go over vocabulary - one sentence strips or anchor chart.
  3. Ask guided question: Could Salmon survive in the ___ watershed? Hand out blank poster board to groups of 2-3 students. (See attached photo for poster template.)
  4. Each group make hypothesis about guided question.
  5. Pass out water quality recording sheet – demonstrate how to take temperature and gather macros.
  6. (pH can be done in field or back in classroom)
  7. Split up into temperature and macro groups before you proceed to stream. (Having a few extra adults would be beneficial such as parents or para-educator.)
  8. At stream conduct experiment three times and record data.
  9. Return to classroom and share all data with all students recording data on a final Water Quality for Salmon recording sheet for each grouping of students.
  10. Have students’ record drawings of what they observed in the field.
  11. Groups of students discuss their conclusions and then write a paragraph based on their hypothesis and what they learned and observed. 


Macroinvertebrates - A macroinvertebrate is the term used for invertebrates. This includes arthropods (insects, mites, scuds and crayfish), molluscs (snails, limpets, mussels and clams), annelids (segmented worms), nematodes (roundworms), and platyhelminthes (flatworms).
pH pH is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration; a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.  pH less than seven are acidic, while those with a pH greater than seven are basic or alkaline.
Acidity - Excessive acid quality, a pH value of less than 7
Alkaline - a pH value of more than 7
Invertebrates - Creatures without a backbone

Assessment Materials

How water condition affects salmon survival

Writing prompt for science notebook-
Describe a stream that supports salmon. Use pictures with labels or sentences.

Students will describe a stream that supports salmon.  Descriptions should use pictures with labels or sentences.

Supports for Struggling Learners

Pictures to match vocabulary
Gallery walk of finished posters

Enrichment Activities

Average the data
Contact Olympic National Park service to see if salmon would survive (distance learning)

Additional Resources

Perrinville Basin Creek watershed video -
Lessons from Snohomish Conservation District -

Related Lessons or Education Materials

This lesson is part of a unit on raising and releasing salmon.

Contact Information

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Last updated: March 23, 2020