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  • Here are links to Science Learning Hub resources for primary teachers related to life cycles in the Living World strand of the New Zealand Curriculum.

    Explore the life cycles of birds, butterflies, crabs, eels, ferns, fungi, green-lipped mussels, human beings, inanga (whitebait), insects, moths, plants and more.


    Discover more about the life cycles of birds.

    Penguin life cycle – Image

    Life cycle of kākā – Interactive


    Explore the life cycles of native and introduced New Zealand butterflies.

    Unit plan: Butterflies (lower primary)

    Unit plan: Butterflies (upper primary)

    Butterflies – Introductory article with links to media, articles and activities

    Monarch butterflies – Article

    White butterflies – Article

    White butterfly life cycle – Activity


    Crab larvae develop in open water, not near the reef where they started their life. Fertilised crab eggs are released into the water and float with the currents while they develop into the larval form. They find their way back to suitable habitats from long distances.

    Crabs finding home – Article

    Crab life cycle – Image


    The life cycle of eels has long been a mystery. The eels breed only once at the end of their life cycle. In the autumn, adult eels leave the rivers and streams and head for the ocean. From there, they make a long journey of thousands of kilometres to a place somewhere in the South Pacific ocean. Scientists think the spawning grounds may be close to Tonga.

    Longfin eels – Article

    Adapting SLH activities: changing the topic – PLD

    Role-play – building science knowledge and Role-play – playing the game and reflections – Videos

    Inanga life cycle – Image

    Life cycle of freshwater eels – Image

    Longfin eel – on a path to extinction? – Article


    Ferns are unique amongst land plants in that they have 2 separate living structures in their reproductive cycle.

    What is a fern? – Article

    Fern life cycle – Interactive

    Fern propagation – Activity

    Why are ferns unique? – Video

    Fern reproduction – Video


    Fungi are almost everywhere – learn more about fungal life cycles and different parts of a fungus.

    Fungal life cycles – spores and more – Article

    Ngā hurihanga ora o te hekaheka – ngā pua atua me ētahi atu hanga – Article

    Mushroom life cycle – Image

    Te hurihanga ora o te harore – Image

    Green-lipped mussels

    During its life cycle, the green-lipped mussel undergoes enormous changes, including fundamental changes in shape. It changes from a free-swimming larval form (which swims in the ocean) to a settled juvenile and adult form (which is anchored to one spot).

    Life of a green-lipped mussel – Article

    Human beings

    Find out about the key stages in the development of a human.

    Fertilisation to adulthood – Timeline

    Inanga (whitebait)

    Whitebait lay their eggs in freshwater, and after hatching, the larvae are swept down to the ocean where they grow. The young then move back up into freshwater in large shoals known as runs.

    Whitebait – Article

    Inanga and other whitebait – Video


    Scale insects are tiny in size but have a significant impact on the forest ecosystem.

    Scale insect life cycle – Video

    Glow-worms spend most of their lives as larvae – where their famous light is produced most brightly. The other stages are surprisingly short in comparison.

    Glow-worms – Article

    Discover how different our native wasps are to the common idea of what a wasp is.

    Parasitoid wasp life cycle – Article


    Find out how to rear moths using basic equipment such as a plastic lunchbox to grow eggs and caterpillars into moths.

    Rearing insects – Activity

    Rearing moths – Video


    Humans have many reasons to grow plants: for food, for building materials or simply for pleasure. A plant really just has one reason to grow – to reproduce to make more plants like it.

    Unit plan: Pollination (lower primary)

    Seeds, Stems and Spores – Introductory article with links to media, articles and activities

    Plant reproduction – Article

    Plant reproduction without seeds – Article

    The seed-flower life cycle – Article

    Flowering plant life cycles – Article

    Pollination pairs – Activity

    Trees and natural cycles – Article

      Published 2 July 2015, Updated 3 October 2019 Referencing Hub articles
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