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Lesson Title: Salmon Run Simulation Game

Lesson Date: September 21, 2017

Name: Lauren Reynolds, Cristin Smith, Erin Arrowsmith

Subject: Science
Grade: 5

Students will participate in a simulation of a salmon run, as a culmination of their learning about the salmon life
cycle. This activity will lead to a kinesthetic integration of knowledge that students might have previously only
heard or read about. Students will also experience how First Peoples interacted with salmon in a respectful and
symbiotic way.

Curriculum Connections:
Big Idea:
Multicellular organisms have organ systems that enable them to survive and interact within their
environment (

Curricular Competencies:
Questioning and Predicting
Key questions about systems:
How can you observe the concept of interconnectedness within ecosystems in your local area?
Make observations in familiar or unfamiliar contexts
Make predictions about the findings of their inquiry (
Processing and analyzing data and information
Experience and interpret the local environment
Identify First Peoples perspectives and knowledge as sources of information

First Peoples concepts of interconnectedness in the environment.
First Peoples knowledge of sustainable practices (
The salmon organ system and life cycle, specifically the salmon run

Prerequisite Concepts and Skills:
Salmon biology / life cycle
Environmental interconnectedness
Indigenous cultures of Vancouver Island and west coast of BC:
Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish First Nations on Vancouver Island (including
Snuneymuxw, Stzuminus, Halalt and Cowichan) (see
Stsailes, Syilx, Salish, LilWat, Squamish, Musqueam, Yakima, and Sechelt, among others.
Materials and Resources:
*All materials should be readily available in school PE supplies
Teacher Students

Teaching the activity: No materials required

Jump-ropes or other materials to delineate the river
Balls (small or medium)
Buckets (2-3)
Pinnies or name-tags (to mark predators/fishers)
Assessment (small groups):
White boards and dry erase markers

Place two long jump ropes (or a few ropes tied together) to form a long (20) river in the gym or outside
Place 2-3 buckets at one end
Place balls in 2-3 groups for distribution to students (1 ball per student)
Simulation #1:
Give name-tags/coloured pinnies to the following students:
2 students will be bears
3 students will be eagles
Remaining students will be salmon and should each be given a ball (egg)
Predators (bears & eagles) take their places outside the river. Each predator can tag salmon as they
move up the river, keeping both feet on the outside of the river. When tagged, the salmon leave the
river, and line up nearby. The predator should take the ball from the tagged salmon, turn around and
place it behind them on the ground, then go back to tag another salmon, so that salmon are always tagged
individually. Demonstrate this action to students before starting the simulation.
When the teacher blows the whistle, salmon can pick their time to walk up the river, individually or in
small groups, with the goal of depositing their ball (egg) in the bucket at the top of the river.
Bears and eagles will try to tag the salmon from the outside of the river as outlined above.
Salmon who are tagged have not made it to the spawning grounds and should lineup at the side to be
ready for simulation #2. Once all the salmon have tried to make their way up the river, then the number
of successful eggs to make it up the river can be counted.
Simulation #2:
Run the simulation again, but this time, change up the students who get to be predators.
To simulate low water flow in the river, this time, the predators are allowed to put one foot into the river
to tag salmon. Ask the salmon to walk up the river again and count the number of eggs that make it up
the river, noting how the number changes from simulation #1.
Other modifications to try (students may also have some ideas to suggest):
Try running the simulation with 4 bears and 6 eagles, 1 bear and 2 eagles, etc.
Try narrowing the river to simulate even lower water flow after a dry summer
Try the simulation on a gentle hillside to make it harder for the salmon to swim upstream
Simulation #3: Indigenous Connections / First Peoples Principles of Learning
The First Peoples of Canada hold many beliefs about their interconnectedness with nature and the
importance of living in a symbiotic relationship.
In addition, there are two other beliefs that led to some of the Indigenous people on the west coast of BC
to hold a first salmon ceremony at the beginning of the salmon run
1) Salmon were their own proud race that lived in harmony with the Indigenous people.
2) The bones of dead salmon were returned to the river to be reborn as people.
During the first salmon ceremony, a salmon would be caught from the river, killed without breaking the
neck, and then later, the bones and intestines were returned to the river. During the first salmon
ceremony, there are no other fishers in action, allowing the fastest fish up the river to make their way
safely past the Indigenous populations and other fishers.
This ceremony encouraged natural selection, allowing the strongest of the species to reproduce.
Simulation #3 demonstrates the first salmon ceremony. There are no predators, as humans are in this area
and predators would have made themselves scarce. Just one fisher is selected from the group of students.
The first salmon up the river is caught and taken away by the fisher to use in the ceremony, while the rest
of the salmon move up the river with no fishers or predators. Count how many eggs successfully make it
up the river before the fisher returns.

Safety Considerations:
Outdoor boundaries should be set by the teacher at the beginning of the activity.
Students should be encouraged to walk to minimize the possibility of slipping, falling or tripping.
Tagging by bears, eagles and fisher should be a gentle touch, not a hard tag

Classroom Management Considerations:

Ensure you can get the attention of your students outside (e.g. whistle)
Distribute balls from a couple of locations to minimize crowding.
Try to minimize issues of fairness by choosing fishers, bears and eagles as randomly as possible (e.g.
colour of clothing, birthday) & make sure to alternate these roles among other students
Keep attention of students when there is less movement going on (e.g. when salmon ceremony is being

Differentiated Instruction (DI):

Activity can be modified to include students with disabilities - e.g. using playing cards to indicate the
number of steps that each student can take up the river so that the card, rather than physical ability,
determines how successful the salmon is swimming up the river.

Assessment and Evaluation:

Students will demonstrate understanding through active participation in the simulation.
After the simulation, students will be asked to provide input on the dangers that salmon face on their
journey up-river (formative).
In small groups (5-6 students), students will be asked to discuss and then share their responses (write on
whiteboards) to the following questions (formative/summative):
1. What factors can lead to an easier salmon run for salmon?
2. What factors can lead to a more difficult salmon run for salmon?
3. What beliefs led to the First Salmon Ceremony we discussed?
4. What can we learn from Indigenous/First peoples about more sustainable relationships between
humans and salmon?
5. How does the salmon run contribute to the sustainability of the surrounding ecosystem?

Lesson Activities & Pacing:

Teacher Students Pacing

Preparation: None Before

Set-up river, bucket, balls class

Introduction: Participate 5 min

Activate prior knowledge:
Teacher reminds students about the
life cycle of salmon
Salmon hatch from their natal river
or stream, then after spending 1-8
years in the ocean, near the end of
their life cycle they begin a
homeward migration to the river they
hatched in
Spawning journey is very dangerous
with the salmon avoiding a variety of
This activity allows the students to be
either a salmon or predator and be
part of the salmon run

Body: Participate 15 min

Distribute balls & name-tags/pinnies

Simulations #1&2 (survival of salmon in

natural environment)

Simulation #3 (relations of salmon and First

Peoples, salmon ceremony, stewardship, and
environmental connections)

Closure: Discussion 5 min

Assessment - discussion of five above
assessment questions in small groups, then
share answers with large group.