This lesson developed by Reach Out!
Recommended Age Group: Early Elementary
1. What is alive?
2. What isn’t alive?
- Something that is “alive” has life! It is not
an object and it is not dead.
- Something that isn’t “alive” does not have life.
- Human beings are alive.
- Creatures like animals, birds, and fish are all alive.
- Plants, trees, and flowers are all alive.
- Bugs, insects and spiders are all alive.
- Things that are alive can die.
- Things that are alive
- Need food to give them fuel and energy
- Give off wastes
- Can reproduce things or babies like themselves
- Making Observations
- Making Comparisons
- Communicating Findings
- Making Inferences
- Drawing Conclusions
Room Preparation: None
Safety Precautions: None
Procedures and Activity
Ask the guiding questions:
- What is alive?
- What isn’t alive?
Talk about the difference between living and non-living things.
Write on a chalkboard or a big piece of paper, “Living”
and “Not Living.” Share ideas about things that are living
and not living and write them down in the appropriate column.
Take a look at all the living things. Share ideas about what they
all have in common. Lead the discussion to identifying principles of all
living things including: use food, give off wastes, grow, and can
reproduce offspring like themselves.
- Pass out the handout. Go over the names
of living and non-living things in the left-hand column.
- Look at the top of the chart to see the 4 main principles of all
- Explain the directions for completing this chart. Think about each
thing in the left-hand column. Put a check in the box of every
characteristic that it has. You might want to do the first one
- Work alone or in pairs to complete the chart.
Closing - Original Question
- What is alive?
- What isn’t alive?
Listen as the children share their decisions about classifying
things as alive or not alive. Look to see evidence that they understand
the underlying principles of all living things.
- This lesson is a neat springboard for children picking out creatures
they are interested in to research and learn more about! Help them use
the Web, books, videos, and encyclopedias to gather more information
about a living creature. Have them share what they learn with others
via a story, presentation, drawing, or paper.
- Small groups might enjoy researching and learning more about a
particular principle of living creatures. For example, a pair or small
group might examine different species’ reproduction cycles to see how
very differently living things can reproduce (e.g., mammals/live babies,
birds/eggs, marsupials). Or they might look at a variety of creatures
and how they move or get around. They can share their research and
findings via reports, collages, or presentations.
- It is a good thing to help children think about the interdependence of
living things. They might take a living creature and research how it
relies on or interacts with other living things for food, shelter,
warmth, protection, watching each other's young—even
- Check out the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology’s
Web to see pictures and gain information about many animals.
- Visit the National Audubon Society’s Birder Homepage to learn about bird
watching, habitats, bird feeders, migration patterns, rare and common
birds, and current bird research. You can also link to bird museums,
magazines and organizations!
- Check the Other Science Resources
section of this Web site for a frequently updated listing of similar
sites—from Frogland to Whale Net!
Careers Related to Lesson Topic
- U of M Museum of Anthropology
- Tour -
U of M Nichols Arboretum
- Natural Science
- U of M Museum of Natural Science
- Something that has life, can move, grow and die.
- When something gets bigger and matures or “grows up.”
- When something can create a baby or what we call “offspring.”
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