How to use this site    About Us    Submissions    Feedback    Donate    Links - School Assemblies for every season for everyone

Decorative image - Primary

Email Twitter Facebook


Swimming in the Opposite Direction

Going against the crowd

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To use the resilience of Atlantic salmon to explore how we sometimes need to go against the crowd.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the children the following questions.

    - Does anyone like fish?
    - Has anyone ever been fishing?
    - Can anyone name any types of fish?

  2. Show Slide 1.

    Ask the children, ‘Can anyone identify the fish in this picture?’

    Listen to a range of responses before revealing the answer: it is an Atlantic salmon.

    Explain that Atlantic salmon spend much of their life in the Atlantic Ocean, hence their name.

  3. Show Slide 2.

    On the map, show the children where the Atlantic Ocean is and point out the UK. Explain that, in fact, the salmon in the first picture isn’t in the Atlantic Ocean. Instead, it is swimming up a stream in the Scottish Highlands.

  4. Ask the children what the words ‘resilient’ and ‘determined’ mean.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  5. Explain that Atlantic salmon have to be both resilient and determined. They spend most of their life at sea, but make an epic journey back to the river or stream where they hatched so that they can lay their eggs. They use their sense of smell to find their home river. New fish hatch from the eggs and the life cycle continues.

  6. Show Slide 3.

    This adult salmon has travelled all the way from Greenland to somewhere in the Scottish Highlands to spawn. That’s a journey of over 1,000 miles!

    Not only do salmon travel a long way, they also need to swim upstream to reach the river or stream where they hatched. Salmon can be spotted jumping over weirs and waterfalls to get to their destination. In fact, they have been known to leap vertical obstacles more than 3 metres tall!

  7. Show the YouTube video ‘Salmon jumping Shrewsbury Weir’ (2.48 minutes long).

    Explain that these Atlantic salmon are performing their amazing upstream swimming, jumping out of the water to clear the weir. They’ve travelled all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to a river in Shropshire. They’re making their way to a lake in Wales, close to Snowdonia.

Time for reflection

Point out that sometimes, like the Atlantic salmon, we need to go against the flow. Ask the children what they think this phrase means.

Listen to a range of responses.

Explain that in swimming against the flow of the stream, the salmon have to work hard to keep going, even though the water puts pressure on them. They need to find the strength to do the opposite of what is happening around them. The salmon can’t just go with the flow; they need to find the energy to swim against the current.

Sometimes, we need to go against what is going on around us too. Sometimes, we need to have the courage to act or behave differently from other people. For example, if we see someone being picked on, we need to have the courage to say no and stand up for the person involved. Likewise, if our classmates are messing around and not getting any work done, we might need to have the courage to act differently.

There are many people in history who have swum against the tide and stood up for what is right.

Ask the children if they can think of any examples.

Listen to a range of responses.

Jesus was someone who challenged people. He went against the tide and spoke out against the things that he considered to be wrong, including how the poor and the sick were treated. Jesus was outspoken in his views that God’s love was for all people, regardless of their wealth or health. With his words and actions, Jesus challenged the ideas of the time and demonstrated care and compassion to those in need.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
Thank you for the example of the Atlantic salmon.
Please help us to swim against the tide when needed.
Please help us to stand up for what is right.
Please help us to look for ways in which we can help others.
Please help us to keep trying and not give up.

Extension activities

  1. Research some people in history who have stood up for what is right and made a difference. Examples could include Doctor Martin Luther King and Irena Sendler.
Publication date: June 2022   (Vol.24 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
Print this page