Lesson 1st – 4th grade

Shrimp School

Brine Shrimp Activity

Lesson Plan




Students will learn what brine shrimp are, and classify objects as living and nonliving.  This lesson will also introduce that living organisms (i.e. brine shrimp) must have specific environmental influences to grow, reproduce and move.

For children in the 1st and 2nd grades, loose, exploratory activities are appropriate.  These younger children will learn simply from hatching brine shrimp and watching them grow.

Children in the 3rd and 4th grades may need more formal experiments to test what environmental influences sustain life.


Grade Levels:

1st – 4th grade



  • Understand living vs. nonliving objects.
  • Use inquiry methods to understand brine shrimp and how to hatch them.
  • Identify environments to sustain life for various organisms.
  • Prepare a viable environment for brine shrimp.
  • Show how pollutants affect not only brine shrimp but human environments.


Materials needed:

  • Classroom supplies (i.e. crayons, paper, masking tape etc.)
  • Brine shrimp eggs (also referred to as Sea-Monkeys or Artemia)
  • Table salt (non-iodized)
  • Baking soda
  • Clear plastic cups
  • 2 liter bottle (for mixing a saline solution)
  • Desk lamp
  • Plastic straws
  • Yeast or Spirulina powder



  • living: being able to grow, reproduce, and move.
  • nonliving: unable to grow, reproduce, and move.
  • organism: an individual form of life, such as a plant, animal, or bacteria.
  • environment: physical conditions that affect and influence the growth, development, and survival of organisms.
  • pollutants: any substance that is harmful to an environment.
  • survive: to continue living.
  • hatch: to bring young from an egg.
  • brine shrimp: a small crustacean common to salty lakes.
  • grow: to increase in size.
  • experiment: a test, or trial for the purpose of discovering something unknown.
  • saline: salty water


Introduction: Living vs. Nonliving

Collect various object that are living and non-living.  Have the students separate and identify the living from nonliving objects (You may ask the students to draw two living and two nonliving objects instead).  What makes an organism alive and another object not alive? (refer to the vocabulary list).


Place a pinch of brine shrimp eggs on a paper and try to have the students identify what they are.  You may direct the discussion with question such as: What does it look like? Are they round or square? Are they living or nonliving objects?  Write their responses on the chalkboard.  Responses might include:

  • Sand
  • Dirt
  • Seeds
  • Pepper
  • A chemical
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Food

WarningIt is not recommended that the student taste the brine shrimp eggs as processing companies often use chemicals for disinfecting and storage of eggs.


You may need to tell the students that they are eggs.  Have the students then guess what type of organism would produce this egg?  (Of course the students should not be expected to guess they are brine shrimp eggs, however they may be able to make logical guesses due to the size of the egg.)  Point out the size of chicken eggs, robin eggs, and ostrich eggs.  Show the relation of the size of the animal to the size to their eggs.  Tell the students they are brine shrimp eggs.  How big do you think an adult brine shrimp is with relation to their eggs? (8-10 mm or as big as the tip of your pinky finger).


Experiment: Hatching brine shrimp eggs

Ask the students how they think we get the eggs to hatch?  How do other animal eggs hatch?  Teach the students that a mother chicken sits on her eggs to keep them warm.  If the mother did not sit on her eggs they would not hatch.  This may be an appropriate time to discuss the vocabulary terms: environment, hatch, survive, and grow.


Place some salt on a paper and ask the student what is this white stuff?  After a discussion explain to the student that this is salt, and brine shrimp eggs need a saline solution or salty water to grow.  Much like a chicken egg needs a mother to keep it warm.


Saline Solution. Have the children help you mix regular tap water with the salt.  Fill your 2 liter bottle with warm tap water, then mix in 50 grams of salt (25 grams is equal to about 1 heaping tablespoon…so add 2 heaping tablespoons).  Next add two pinches of Baking soda (this is used as a buffer and does not need to be explained to the students).


Pass out plastic straws and the clear plastic cups to each student.  Have each student write their name on a piece of masking tape and stick it about ¾ up the plastic cup.  This will serve not only to identify their cups, but also as a marking for the saline solution…each day the water will evaporate a little and need to be refilled to the masking tape line ( ¾ up the plastic cup) with only tap water (not the saline solution).


Once the students have their plastic cups label and filled with the saline solution, have them each take a pinch of brine shrimp eggs and put it in the saline solution (one adult size pinch is equal to about 20,000 brine shrimp eggs).  


Have the students gently stir the eggs into the water column.  This may take a few minutes as the eggs will first float until they are re-hydrated.  Next have the students gently blow air into their cups for a few seconds…you will want the students to do this each day at the beginning and end of each class as the brine shrimp continue to grow.


Place the plastic cups in a safe warm place (some students have placed their cup on a window seal…this is not recommended as temperatures fluctuate cooler during the night).  Illuminate the cups with a lamp or shop light.  You should begin seeing the eggs hatch in 24-48 hours.


The baby brine shrimp will live on their yolks for about 3 days.  If you would like the brine shrimp to continue growing give them a very, very small pinch of yeast or Spirulina powder one to two times per week.


Environment & Pollutants

For 3rd and 4th grade students you may want to experiment with the brine shrimp’s environment.  Adjust one or more of the brine shrimp’s environments during hatching or several days after the brine shrimp have hatched.  These may include:

  • Use only tap water (no salt)
  • Triple the salinity of the saline solution
  • Incubate in a fridge or extreme heat
  • Do not use a lamp or light
  • Feed the shrimp everyday  (overfeed)
  • Increase the density of brine shrimp egg from a pinch to a heaping teaspoon
  • Add pollutants


Brine shrimp are typically easy to hatch.  Just give them light, warmth (68˚F-79˚F), a little air, the proper saline solution and some food.


If you encounter problems try a different brand of brine shrimp eggs.  You may also try distilled water, or a little extra heat. 

I would love to hear how your class did or if you have any questions.  You can contact me at saltlakebrineshrimp@gmail.com.


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