MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > The Life Cycle of a Walleye Fish

The Life Cycle of a Walleye Fish

Lori L. Beard
Clearbrook-Gonvick School
Clearbrook, Mn.
Based on an activity provided through the MinnAqua program.
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This lesson will allow students to investigate a walleye fish. Students will learn of the walleye family, its habitat, basic body parts of a walleye and its life cycle.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to label the basic body parts of walleye fish including: tail, fin, scales, eyes, mouth. Students will also learn to orally tell the life cycle of this fish. Other skills students will gain through this activity are in observation, questioning, writing and oral presentation. Vocabulary words students will discover are gills scales, fins, life cycle, walleye, egg, sac fry, swim-up fry, fingerling and adult.

Context for Use

This activity is designed for first grade students for any class size. It can be done in any institution including summer camps, summer school etc...This activity will begin with guided discovery instruction/interaction. Activities to follow this discussion will include a writing assignment where students will be labeling parts of a walleye. The second activity will include students cutting out and arranging picture of the life cycle of the walleye in the correct order to make a book to retell the process. This lesson will probably take 2 days.
The materials needed to complete this lesson include a picture of a walleye on a sheet of 81/2 x 11 paper. The picture should be large enough for students to label the parts of a walleye. This should be drawn on the paper where the part is at so that students only have to copy the names on the line. You will also need copies of the life cycle cards that will be cut out and assembled into a book. Students will need scissors, colored pencils for coloring pictures and a pencil for writing. A stapler can be used to assemble the book. Prior to this activity students should have some experience in reading labels from a book or chart. This lesson can be taught according to where the teacher feels it is most appropriate in the curriculum.

Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity:Short Activity:Demonstration
Grade Level: Primary (K-2)

Description and Teaching Materials

Guided Discovery/Inquiry Questions to begin the lesson.
Students will gather near to/close to the teacher. The teacher will begin the activity by showing a picture of a walleye or using a mounted walleye and asking questions such as:
A. What is this?
B. Where would you find this animal?
C. What animal classification name would we name it and how do you know?
D. What is its habitat like?
E. What can you tell me about this animal?
F. What kinds of body parts does it have? Pass out hand lenses to examine the fish if you have one. The teacher will take time to discuss gills and scales.
G. What are the gills used for?
As body parts are presented the teacher will have drawn a picture of the fish on the white board and will write the labels next to the appropriate body part. This can also be done after the activity as a form of recall.
The teacher will then provide guided inquiry questions related to the life cycle of the walleye.
H. How do you think a walleye begins it life?
I. What might happen first?
The teacher will guide them through the life cycle process using picture cards and placing the cards in the the correct order. The teacher will review them once or twice with the group once the cards are put in order. The teacher may first want to discuss what is happening on each card before the activity even begins.
J. To reinforce the life cycle students will use their bodies and act out each part of the life cycle.
1. Students squat down to the floor and say egg. They will count to 10 as it take 10 days before the eggs hatch.
2. Next the eggs are hatched and they become a sac-fry. They place their arms in front of their body to show being a round sac-fry and count to 10 again.
3. Now they have grown into a swim-up fry. They put their hands together and move to a standing position; they move their body as if they are swimming and count to 21, and when they are standing they say swim-up fry.
4. Now they have grown into a fingerling. They are standing up and hold up their finger and swim around holding their finger.
5. Lastly they become an adult walleye. Kids can hold their hands together and move them like a fish and swim around the room. The teacher should repeat this activity as needed so students learn the life cycle of the walleye fish.
K. The teacher will break the kids into two groups. One half of the kids will sit at a table with a picture of a walleye and will write the body parts on the walleye picture which are written on the board. The teacher should first read the labels with the students. When they have completed the labeling they should color the walleye using colored pencils. The teacher should have the walleye mount near them or a picture of the walleye nearby so the students are selecting the appropriate colors. The teacher may want to first have the students only select those colors and put them out near their picture.
L. The other group of students will be given cards of the life cycle of a walleye and will cut the cards out and put them in order. They will staple the cards in order to make a book of the life cycle of a walleye. They will retell the life cycle to friend. They may color the pictures when done. Groups will switch so that both groups can do both activities.
In completion of this activity, the teacher will review the body parts and the life cycle of the walleye. Questions to ask. Do we have any body parts that are the same as the fish? Do we have any part of our life cycle that is the same as the Walleye? Do we grow and change inside our mothers?
The ideas and materials for this lesson have been provided by the Minnaqua program in Minnesota. This activity was revised to meet the needs of first grade and those standards related to first grade. This idea can be found at

Teaching Notes and Tips

If this lesson is too long it may need to be completed in 2 days. Other activities can be integrated into this lesson. Some examples include students using rulers and other various items to measure a walleye. The teacher could bring in lake water for students to make observations. Minnows or guppies could be added to this sample of lake water. Books and DVD/VHS tapes on freshwater fish could be found through the Minnaqua program or possibly the DNR or your local ECSU. This lesson is different from what students have done before because students have not labeled the parts of a fish before but have labeled other animals. My students understand the life cycle of other animals but have not completed the life cycle of a fish before.


The students will complete the labeling picture of a walleye and turn it into me. As students are working I will view to see if they can write the labels in the appropriate space provided.
Students will be tested on the life cycle of the walleye orally in a one on one situation. They will retell the life cycle in a one on one situation to the teacher.


The academic science standards that this activity directly supports are grade 1, I. History and nature of science, sub-
strand B. Scientific Inquiry. The students will raise questions about the natural work, make careful observation and seek answers. It will also meet the requirements for grade 1, IV. life science, sub-strand B. Organisms. The student will observe and describe how plants and animals change.

References and Resources