Activity Overview

Grades: 3,4,5th
Length of Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour 
Adult Support Needed?: No

Steelhead trout are one of the native fish species that calls the San Lorenzo River home. They have a very unique life cycle. Steelhead trout are born and grow up in the river. When they become adults, steelhead trout migrate to the ocean, where they spend up to three years feeding on rich ocean food and growing bigger. Steelhead trout eventually return to the San Lorenzo River to spawn (lay eggs), beginning the cycle anew. In this activity, you will:

  1. Observe the unique life cycle of steelhead trout in YouTube videos
  2. Read text to become experts on one life stage
  3. Create a poster sharing what you learned about your life stage with your class, friends or family.

Virtual Activity Guide

Join CWC staff as they guide youth through the activity. Youth are taken step by step through the activity. You may choose to use the Virtual Activity Guide instead of the Activity Guide PDF as all the same information is provided in this Virtual Activity Guide. 

Supports Next Generation Science Standards:

  • 3-LS3-2. Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment. 

  • 3-LS1-1. Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.

Materials Needed:

  • Activity Guide PDF or Virtual Activity Guide: Become a Steelhead Trout Expert
  • Blank paper
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencils

Downloadable Activity Guide (PDF)

Youth may choose to use either a downloadable Activity Guide or use the Virtual Activity Guide above. Both resources will guide students through the activity. 

Click here to download your activity guide (English)

Haga clic aquí para descargar su guía de actividades (español)


1. View or print the worksheet. No printer? No problem! View the worksheet online and grab blank paper to follow along.

2. Observe: Watch these four videos from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, M. Sid Kelly, FISHBIO and Oregon State University about the life cycle of steelhead trout.

3. Pick a life stage you want to become an expert on: Egg, Alevin, Fry, Smolt, Adult or Spawner.

4. Read and Learn: Find and read the worksheet pages about the steelhead trout life stage you picked. Then answer the sentence frames for that life cycle to apply what you have learned. Answers for each life stage sentence frame are provided at the end of the PDF.

5. Take Action: Create an information poster about the steelhead life stage you studied and share your favorite fish facts.

6. (Optional): Share your poster with us! Send an email to or tag @CoastalWatershedCouncil on Instagram or Facebook.

Additional Resources:

Thank you to the City of Santa CruzCity of CapitolaSanta Cruz County and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for supporting the Coastal Watershed Council’s Watershed Rangers environmental education program.

To all of the Watershed Rangers students, teachers and program partners, although we will not be able to see you in classrooms, field trips and after school programs right now, we hope to provide you and your loved ones with online resources and activities during this time. We know that parents, teacher and lifelong learners are seeking ways to stay engaged and active, and we’re going to be working to bring activities to you through the Coastal Watershed Council blog. Please share these resources and activities with friends, neighbors and parents groups and stay tuned for more.

Additional resources:

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