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Salmon Life Cycle Mix & Match

In this activity, students learn the different life stages of the Pacific salmon. 

The life cycle of Pacific salmon follows six distinct stages. At each stage of life, the fish need different environments and face different threats. 


  • Identify each stage of the salmon life cycle.

  • Identify factors (natural and human-made) that affect salmon survival.


  • Per group:
    1 set of life cycle cards (stage pictures and stage names with descriptions)

Key Questions

  • What life stages are found in freshwater areas?
  • What life stages are found in saltwater oceans?
  • Where are eggs found?
  • Where do spawners go?
  • Where do salmon live the longest?
  • Why might a spawner look so different?

What To Do


  1. Cut out pictures and names/descriptions separately. Laminate these to last longer if you like.

Set up

  1. Divide students into groups.
  2. Give each group a mixed up set of the Pacific salmon life cycle stage picture and name cards.


  1. As a group, have students match the pictures to the name card.
  2. Have students place the pictures in the order of the youngest stage to the oldest stage.
  3. Have groups share their results.


  • Create pictures of typical environments for each stage in the salmon life cycle. Once students have the salmon life cycle in the correct order, have them match each stage to its environment.
  • Create pictures of typical threats for each stage in the salmon life cycle. Have students match a couple of major threats to each stage.
  • Look at a map of the BC coast. Pin the life stages to places where they might be found, or act out their life, showing where and when they change to the next life stage.
  • Explore the significance of salmon in coastal First Nations cultures. The importance of salmon in traditional First Nations lifestyles is reflected in art and storytelling traditions.

Other Resources

Science World| Salmon Mix and Match Cards PDF

DFO Canada | Stream to Sea Program