Life Cycle
Birth or hatching->childhood->adolescence->adult->death


The Foundational Objectives as outlined for grade one science relating to life cycles in the Saskatchewan Evergreen Curriculum are as follows:
1.     Students will be able to describe and understand the physical change that is undergone from birth or
        hatching all the way to full maturity of the species.

2.     Students will be able to compare the care needed for the young of different species.

Note:  The new elementary science curriculum will be implemented sometime in 2010/2011.  The curriculum will focus on 4 key units throughout the year in each grade revolving around the life, physical and earth and space sciences.  These resources will be able to be applied to the following:  Living Things in Our Environment (K), Needs and Characteristics of Living Things (Grade 1) and Animal Growth and Changes (Grade 2). 

Lesson Plans

Life Cycle of a Frog
(Developed by Saskatoon Public School Division)

This lesson introduces students to the life cycle of a frog through the use of Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni.  It also encourages students to explore a webpage with an adults help to gain a better understanding of the frog life cycle.  Students then must create their own life cycle of a frog using various art supply's to demonstrate their understanding.

Life Cycle of a Spider
(kindergarten-grade 1)

This lesson introduces students to the life cycle of a spider through the use of Spider Magic by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent.  Although this book is the one the lesson was originally based on, many different books about spiders could be used with this lesson as copies of this book seem to be hard to find.  Books used with this lesson should be age appropritate for the grade level.  The lesson encourages students to explore the idea that some species hatch from eggs instead of being born live.  There are many unique activities such as a math center where students count the number of different "eggs" they can fit into the "egg sacks".  Also, there is an art activity where students are encouraged to make their own egg sack and many others. 

Watching My Mealworm Grow
(Developed by Christine Jefferson, grade 1-3)

This lesson outlines how to care for your very own meal worm.  Meal worms take about one month to grow to an adult.  In this lesson students are encouraged to care for their own mealworm and document carefully its growth.  This allows for students to not only to learn about life stages, but also about the basic needs of a living creature besides a human and to gain a sense of responsibility by caring for it.  The lesson also encourages one to use the knowledge of the students in their class about caring for young animals or siblings. 

Field Trips

Moose Jaw Burrowing Owl Center

The center is located about 45 min. from Regina, Saskatchewan.  When visiting the center you will be taken on an interpretive tour by a guide.  The focus of the tour is to educate others about the prairie ecosystem and how to conserve habitats. You will get a chance to visit the in house owls, learn about native prairie plants and learn about how you too can make a difference to save the Burrowing Owl.


A great place to view animals in various stages of development in springtime.  Ask a local farmer or family in your classroom for a guided tour. One may take pictures and/or videos to view once you have returned to your classroom to encourage conversation about what stages of development you saw.  Also, one may ask the farmer to explain which animals hatch from eggs and which are born live and the difference in care that is needed for these animals, such as food and shelter. 

Nature Walk

Remember life can be found anywhere and the area around your school is your most easily assessable resource and its FREE.  Take your class outside in spring and encourage them to look for eggs under leaves and bird nests.  The book Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert introduces the class to the Monarch Butterfly.  Look on the underside of the milkweed plant in August and perhaps early September to find the Monarch's eggs. Also, look for the common Painted Lady Butterfly and its tiny mint green eggs on the underside of a variety of plant leaves.  Look at your local library for books that will help you identify eggs and plants. 

Guest Speakers

Roll out the welcome mat and ask students parents to come to your class and give a little talk.  Farmers are a great asset, and may even bring a baby animal to show the class.  Have him/her talk about different care that is needed for the many animals on the farm.  One might also ask a parent who has just had another child.  The parent could talk about the different amount of care the new child needs compared to the older one. Ask the parent to bring ultra sound photo's and explain the stage of development the baby was at.  If there has been a recent pet birth in one of the families in your class you could ask them to talk about the babies and their care.

Owls on Tour
(Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Center)

Bring the learning experience of the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Center to your classroom by booking a tour. The center will bring an owl to your school and engage the students in learning about the owl and its habitat through stories, skits and videos. 

Extra Ideas


Ask students to document through pictures, videos and journals what they observe in regards to growth and basic needs if for instance a new child is born in the family or a pet or farm animal has babies.  Invite them to share what they have found with the class and encourage them to document what they see during feild trips.  One might find through looking at their students documentation that their is a particular question, animal or idea that the class seems to be interested in.  This can be used to guide future lesson plans that will engage the students to the fullest because the content will be of particular interest to them. 

Hatch Your Own

Why not have your class have the hands on experience of caring for and observing a chicken grow inside an egg and hatch?  One may purchase an incubator (still or forced air one) and they come with the option of manual rotation or electronic rotation of the eggs.  Fertilized eggs can be purchased through most chicken farmers and take about 21 days to hatch.  The chickens growth can be observed through a process called candling, where one holds an egg up to a candle in a dark room and can see the features inside.  This provides a great opportunity for daily documentation with your class.  Homes for the chicks should be found before hatching.  For more tips check out The Easy Chicken For Beginners.  One might also wish to use this as an opportunity to compare the life cycle of different species. 

Compare and Contrast

After observing and talking about many different species compare and contrast topics such as: basic needs, growth, and general characteristics about them with your class. 

Observe Through the Nextbox Webcam
(Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Center)

The Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Center has a webcam that is directly linked to their nestbox.  Mating occurs in April and babies hatch from May to June. 


See the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Center Nestbox Webcam Observations Activities PDF for more information.

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Engagement Activities

Are You Me?
(Activity is from the Canadian Project Wild Activity Guide published by the
Canadian Wildlife Federation, pg. 6

This activity is not a direct duplicate of the one found in the Project Wild Activity Guide, but is a general overview and can be adapted in many ways.  Choose pictures of adult animals, insects, birds or reptiles and corresponding baby pictures.  The original activity only focuses on aquatic animals.  One might also ask students to bring baby pictures and a picture of them now.  Have students in groups place their pictures on a table and mix them up.  Student's then switch tables and try to match the adult and corresponding baby pictures together.  For some species this could be particularly hard because the baby looks much different than the adult.  This activity focuses o

Interdisciplinary Connections

Language Arts

Ask students to journal about what they observe when looking at different stages of growth of species.  What do they wonder about, what did they learn or can they compare what they observed to the life cycle and needs of a human?


Have students chart or graph the growth of a species over its life cycle.  Several options have been suggested above such as: meal worms, chickens and burrowing owls. 


Have students make a collage of items that they feel are their basic needs and then talk about their choices.  One might also have students make a collage of mother and baby species from old nature or pet magazines. 

Social Studies

As a class take care of a area of your school yard and if you can plant some species of plants that are native to the area as a social action project.  Talk to the students about conservation, sustainability, and recycling.  This area will flourish with little care and will be a place where many species of birds, animals and insects may be seen in the future.  One might wish to make bird houses out of recycled, non-toxic material to put in the trees around your school. 

A fun activity to do with your students is to collect seeds of native plants in the fall and make seed bombs to plant in deserted areas around the schoolyard to seed them back to a more natural state.  Remember one must be respectful when taking from a plant.  Take only what you need and as a sign of respect one should offer tobacco to the plant.  This is an Aboriginal belief. 

How To Make A Seed Bomb

Sacred Tobacco - why is it offered when we take from Mother Earth?


Have students list the needs for survival of some of the species you are studying.  Compare and contrast it to the needs of humans for survival. 

Physical Education

After talking about what a need and want is have students stand on one side of the gym.  Call out a short scenario ("You got a new toy as a gift") and have students run to the other side of the gym if it is a want.  Post signs on the gym walls depicting what side the gym is, the need side or the want side. 

Aboriginal Education

Take students outside in spring and have them observe some of the changes they see.  Ask them to look particularly for signs of new life and draw what they observe.  Ask students if they think change is good or bad and how so.  (The Learning Circle-Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). 

Talk to students about sharing and respecting nature and there are things that they should not do such as:destroying plants, handling wild animals and polluting.  Talk about basic needs of species and why destroying it and interfering with it can be harmful to the life cycle of a species.  (The Learning Circle-Indian and Northern Affairs Canada).

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada-Publications

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Life Cycle of a Frog

This video talks the viewer through the life cycle of a frog from egg to adult.  This would be a great video to view after reading the book Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni because it shows clearly how a tadpole could look like a tiny fish and why and how a frog begins its life in water but then grows up to be able to live on land also.

Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly

It is fascinating to watch how a tiny egg develops into a caterpillar, a pupa and a butterfly.  This video could be viewed before conducting the mealworm project in your classroom.  Both the butterfly and mealworm begin life as an egg and develop into a worm that in order to develop into an adult must first be a pupa. 


Hinterland Who's Who - Species

This part of the website gives a great overview of many Canadian species including mammals, birds, amphibians and insects. Each species fact sheet has a detailed description of its habitat, food and breeding.  This website is helpful in introducing a life cycle of a mammal to your class. 

Journal Articles

Teaching Through Trade: Life Cycle Science

This article discusses how one can use the tradebook Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert to teach students about the life cycle of a butterfly.  It includes ideas for grades K-3 as well as 4-6. 


Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni

A tale about two friends, a minnow and a tadpole, who grow up together.  As they grow though, one grows legs and the other does not.  A colourful look at how a tadpole changes into a frog.

Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert

This trade book explores the life cycle of a butterfly through colourful pictures. 

Spider Magic by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

A book that details a spiders life from hatching to death and contains general information on spiders. 

Digital Books

The Story of the Salmon Siblings
(Created by Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society)

This is a digital story of a life of a salmon egg to maturity.  Readers get the opportunity to choose different scenarios for their salmon and see the results.  This digital book is suitable for grade three to five, but can be used with younger students with adult assistance.