Cycling through some life!

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SWBAT identify and analyze life cycles by comparing the life cycle of a plant with the life cycle of an animal.

Big Idea

Once the students know what a life cycle is, they need to understand that not all life cycles are the same and that they are unique to each life form.


10 minutes

This lesson is the culminating lesson for life cycles. The two lessons before this one provided the students with experiences with the life cycle of a tree or plant and the life cycles of animals.

In this lesson, the kids are going to compare the life cycle of a plant or tree to the life cycle of an animal. To begin this lesson, I elicit from the children what they have learned in the previous two lessons. I do this to get them thinking about life cycles and to bring to the working memory what they know about life cycles.


I gather the kids onto the floor for a whole group interaction. I do this by calling one table at a time to the floor one table at a time to sit like scientists. This means crisscross applesauce, hands in lap, mouths closed, ears and brains open and read to learn.

I ask, "What can you remember from the experiences we had with the life cycles of a tree/plant and the life cycle of animals."

I pull name sticks from a name stick can to solicit responses. I use the name stick can to avoid subconscious bias in calling on students.

As I call on random students to share information they remember from the previous lessons, I record what they share onto a sheet of chart paper so we can quickly review it all before we move on to this lesson's new learning.

As the kids respond, the way I should record information begins to come to light. I create a branch chart by using the main heading, "Life Cycles" and the subheadings, "tree, plant, frog, fish, butterfly, dog, human, bird". As the kids state things related to their experiences, I record single words under each subheading. If the kids do not share information in order, we can number the items when they are finished recalling information.

Recording the information in a graphic organizer demonstrates for the kids a way to organize their thoughts and ideas in ways that they will be expected to do independently in first grade and beyond.


10 minutes

To engage the kids in this lesson, I explain to them that each table will be given two envelopes, one with the life cycle of a tree/plant and one with the life cycle of an animal. I make sure that the tables have different life cycles from the ones they had in the first two lessons so there is more of a cognitive challenge for them.

Each table team is sent to their table one at a time to sit quietly with their hands in their laps. I tell them that I will give each table leader two envelopes, but they are not to open them until I tell they are asked.

Once all the teams have two envelopes, the table leaders are asked to take

The objective for this lesson is for the kids to match the steps in the life cycle of the tree/plant to those of the animal they get, e.g. seed to egg, sprout to tadpole...

I ask the teams to do an inner/outer cycle flow chart to compare the life cycles. I show them a sample of one that has numbers instead of pictures for the life cycles. There is a life cycle inside and a life cycle outside, each step is equivalent to the other as explained in the objective above.

I ask the kids to discuss as a team how they are going to organize their task. I tell them to begin by matching up the steps in a line before deciding how to match them in a circle. I will help them with that part if they should need assistance.

As the kids have their discussions, I roam the room for two reasons. 1) to assist or clarify when needed and 2) to place each team's poster paper on the center of their table for when they are ready to glue the cycles down.



5 minutes

The explanation for this section is done in the same manner as the life cycles of animals lesson. I have the table teams present their posters and explain to the class why they matched and ordered the life cycles they way they did.

I encourage the students listening to ask questions for clarification and deeper understanding. They may ask how, why, what if questions.

This time as the kids give their presentations, I video tape them so I can talk to them privately as a team at another time. I will sit with them and view their presentation with them and give them feedback on how they presented their information and how they could make it stronger and more beneficial for the class.

At the end of the year, we will be having a science museum with workstations for the other kindergarten classes to come and participate in. This feedback is important so the students can be prepared for such an exciting day as they will be the facilitators and the guides for the museum and activity stations.


5 minutes

Once all of the tables have given their presentations, I have the kids conduct a museum walk around the room so they can see each poster up close. One person, the high student, from each group remains at each table with their poster to answer any additional questions the kids may have for each other. They get to walk around and view each poster up close at the end.

To get the museum walk going, I call the high-academic from each table. The kids do not know that is why those kids are chosen. Each student has a sticker on their name tag that indicates their academic level. These are fluid and can be changed at any time. I change the stickers with every science unit. For this unit, the kids have animal stickers. I simply say, all the monkeys, who are the high kids, go stand by your table. You will be today's museum guide for your table team's work. You will answer any questions that other students might have about your poster, life cycles or presentation.

I then call one table at a time to stand up and I assign them a table to start at. There are six tables to see altogether, that includes their own which is that last table they will go to and will sit down once they get there. To accomplish this, each table starts one table to the right of their own and all groups will move one table clockwise each time I tell them to switch. I give them 90 seconds at each table. That doesn't sound like much time, but to young children, it's plenty.

Once they have rotated all the way around the room, the last table they should get to is their own where they will have a seat and wait for the instructions for the evaluation section of this lesson.


10 minutes

I have the kids return to their tables and sit quietly. I ask the table leaders to bring me the team life cycle posters for safe keeping. I will post them around the room after school.

The students each get strips of two different life cycles. They are distributed randomly, one tree/plant and one animal.

I bring each tables stack of science journals to each table leader and have them pass them out to the people at their tables.

I have the kids find the next empty page in their journals and open to it. They are instructed to make a "mini comparison poster" between their tree/plant and animal just like they did as a team. I tell them they have 10 minutes to complete their task.

It should not take them long. By this point, they have had multiple experiences with life cycles and should be able to do this on their own with very little support or assistance from me or other students.

I do have two kids who are developmentally delayed, one emotionally challenged and one pre-emergent ELL student. I have those four kids bring their journals to the floor with me and I walk them through the task step by step. The rest assist each other at the tables. I get up and leave my small group to help when necessary.

To close this lesson, I have the kids gather on the floor to solicit what they learned from the experience. I pull random name sticks from a name stick can to have kids share out their learning. I ask them to share one thing only per person. Students are encouraged to each other through questioning or reinforcing of information.


5 minutes

The elaboration of this lesson is a simple reading of a story called, The Caterpillar and the Polliwog, by Jack Kent.

I you do not have this book, you can view it on Youtube here.

I gather the kids on the floor in a whole group by calling them one table able a time to sit quietly to hear the story.

This story does not compare a plant with an animal, but it does show a comparison between two animals, a frog and a butterfly.

It is a delightful story and the kids love it. I stop the video, or reading, from time to time to discuss the changes that are seen in the two different animals.


The extension for this lesson is to create three-dimensional models of life cycles for our science museum. That will take place in the fourth quarter of the year to review what we have learned in this lesson.