One of the first biology lessons students receive is what distinguishes a living thing from a nonliving thing. The lessons are primarily taught in first, second and third grades. A variety of activities can help students develop an understanding of the characteristics of living and nonliving things.
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Compare and Contrast Worksheet
For a beginner lesson on living and nonliving things, giving students a compare-and-contrast worksheet is a good idea. This helps students develop their critical-thinking skills while learning the concept of living and nonliving things. A good compare-and-contrast worksheet would show two items, one being living, such as an animal, and the other being nonliving, such as a household item. The two items would be described in brief sentences below. Then the students would make a list of traits that were alike and traits that were different. This will help them develop an understanding of characteristics of living and nonliving things.
Once students have a good concept of the characteristics of living and nonliving things, have them complete an organizational worksheet. This worksheet would have two boxes on it, one titled living things and the other nonliving things. At the bottom of the worksheet would be six to eight small pictures of living things such as plants or animals and nonliving things such as toys and electronics. Students would learn to differentiate the things by cutting out each item and pasting it into the appropriate living or nonliving box.
Living and Non-Living Classroom Activity
For a more advanced living and nonliving things classroom activity, a teacher could have the students partake in a series of lessons. One such lesson would be to have the students walk around outside the school building and take notes on things that are living and things that are nonliving. The teacher also could bring a potted plant into the school and not water it for several days, then ask the students to identify the effect this had on the plant. This will help students realise that living things need water, air and other natural elements to survive. The teacher could also discuss with the students residual aspects such as the types of shelter living things need and what could potentially destroy the quality of the air. At the end of this series, students would be asked questions on what qualities living things had versus nonliving things.
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