Living Things and NonLiving Things

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SWBAT distinguish and compare living and nonliving objects.

Big Idea

Is it living or nonliving? That is the question.

Setting the Stage

National Science Teaching Standards

According to National Science Teaching Standards, students need to understand characterization of organisms. In this lesson, students will learn that plants and animals are living things. All living things need food and water, carry out respiration, reproduce, grow and move.


Background Knowledge:

My students understand nonliving and living things.  They understand that living things need food and water; however, they do not understand the other characteristics such as: carry out respiration, reproduce, grow, and move.

To complete this lesson, students will need to use the science process skills: observation, sorting/classifying, and communication.


 All needed resources are included.

  1. group labels
  2. nonliving and living cards
  3. lab sheet
  4. Video
  5. living or nonliving chart (assessment)




10 minutes

At the students' desk, I provide them with play dough so they can create a nonliving and living thing. I tell them to create a living or nonliving thing with the provided play dough. This helps my hands-on and visual learners.

Then they are invited to turn and talk to a partner and they tell their partner why there creation is living or nonliving. I permit some partners to share with the entire class.  This strategies ensure that all students have a voice and I assess students' background knowledge, too. 

After the students share, I show the students a video on the 7  characteristics of living and nonliving things. I  provide students with a sheet of copying paper, and I informed them to record the 7 characteristics as the video plays to ensure that students listen attentively.  When the video is finish, I have the students share. 



20 minutes

Students are placed in groups of 4 students. I assigned the leader and the groups select the recorder, reporter, manager (time keeper).  They placed group assignment tags on their shirt with a clothes pin, group labs.

In this investigation, I want students to use the science process skills sort or classify, communicate, and observe. I provide groups with nonliving and living cards and "What Am I" lab sheet. I inform my students that they will observe 12 picture cards and decide which pictures show living or nonliving things.   

Then I tell them that they will record their findings on the lab sheet and tell how the pictures are alike and different.  As groups collaborate, I facilitate their learning by asking: how were you able to decide which pictures were nonliving or living?; what do living things need?  How can living things use nonliving things? In floating to each group, I provide students autonomy and I can check for misconceptions and understanding.

Students working in groups. 



10 minutes

Students will return back to the carpet to discuss their findings.

The following questions will be asked: How did you decide which pictures show living things and nonliving things?; How are the living things different from nonliving things?

As a class, we will complete a chart and decide which is living or nonliving. I use my document camera to enlarge the living or nonliving chart, to serve as a visual. Students are asked to write yes or no under each column. The column headings are: does it need food/water, does it move, does it grow/change, does it reproduce. It permits my students to continue to build background knowledge about living and nonliving things.