K/Science      Living v. Non-living (Foss Tree Kit plus literature)


J   In this unit you will be exploring living and non living objects and learning the characteristics that determine the appropriate status. You will be touching upon some habitats that things or objects occupy. This unit is a combination of lessons and the Foss tree kit. Please feel FREE to expand or adjust as you see necessary.



A. 6.  Describe the characteristics that distinguish living from non-living things.


A. 4. Describe the similarities and differences in the appearance and behaviors of plants, birds, fish, insects and mammals (including humans).

GRADE-LEVEL CONCEPT: u Living things have certain characteristics that distinguish them from nonliving things, including growth, movement, reproduction and response to stimuli.


1.    Things in our environment can be classified based on whether they are alive, were once alive or whether they were never alive. 

2.    Growth is an observable characteristic common to living things. 

3.    Reproduction is an observable characteristic common to living things.  Living things can be classified into groups based on the different ways they reproduce.  For example, some living things lay eggs, while others produce seeds or give birth.  Offspring generally resemble their parents but are not identical to them.

4.    Many living things move in response to their environment, but movement alone is not evidence of life.  For example, cars and the wind both move, but they are not alive.

5.    Plants and animals are living things.  Plants have characteristics (such as roots, stems, leaves and flowers) that animals do not have.  Animals have characteristics (such as body parts and body coverings) that plants do not have.

6.    Animals can be classified into groups based on generally similar characteristics such as number of legs, type of body covering, or way of moving.  Some animal groups are reptiles, insects, birds, fish and mammals. 

7.    Members of the same group of animals can look and behave very differently from each other.  For example, goldfish and sharks are both fish, but there are distinct differences in their size, color and lifestyle.  In addition, all goldfish are not identical to each other and neither are all sharks. 

8.    Plants can be classified into groups based on similarities in the appearance of their leaves, stems, blossoms or fruits.  Some plant groups are grasses, vegetables, flowering plants and trees.  

9.    Members of the same group of plants can look and behave very differently from each other.  For example, although oaks and palms are both trees, their size, shape, leaves and bark are very different.  In addition, all oak trees are not identical to each other and neither are all palms.

KEY SCIENCE VOCABULARY:  classify, reproduction, offspring, characteristics, reptile, insect, mammal



CONCEPTS: Need To know about

v   Difference (characteristics) between living and non-living things.

v   Use of Venn and other various diagrams and chart to sort information and compare and contrast information. (use the diagrams and charts already using in math and literature)


SKILLS: Be able to do:

    Communicate through words, illustrations, and/or diagrams what makes something living.

    Communicate through words, illustrations, and/or diagrams what makes something non-living.

    Compare and contrast living between living and non-living things.

    Use a Venn diagram or other organizers to make comparisons and contrasts.

Communicate using appropriate vocabulary.



    Movement means that an object physically moves from one spot to another or that wind, human, or weather forces count as movement. (An object can have internal movement-blood, liquids, sap)

    Excretion means pooping or peeing. (it just means to get rid of something that the thing does not need)

    Something is living if it meets most of the characteristics. (ALL must be met)


Big Ideas:

Living and non-living things have 7 (or six) characteristics that make something living. (There is debate over exactly how many and you can discuss this with the children.  It is important that children understand that science is changing and that not everyone always agrees.  You can discuss how experiments and research are used to help scientist prove and disprove hypothesizes.  These conversations can help your children realize that someday they might be able to prove or disprove something in the world.  It might also help open the world of science and exploration for some of your students struggling in school.




To be classified as living ALL characteristics MUST be met.


The Characteristics are.


1. Feeding-all organisms need to obtain substances to obtain energy, to grow and stay healthy.


**2. Movement-all organisms show movement of one kind or another. All living organisms have internal movement, which means that they have the ability of moving substances from one part of their body to another.  Some living organisms show external movement as well- they can move from place to place by walking, flying or swimming.


3. Breathing or Respiration-All living things exchange gases with their environment.  Animals take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.


4. Excretion-Excretion is the removal of waste from the body.  If this waste was allowed to remain in the body it could be poisonous.  Humans produce liquid waste called urine.  We also excrete waste when we breathe out.  All living things need to remove waste from their bodies.


**5. Growth-When living things feed they gain energy.  Some of this energy is used in growth.  Living things become larger and more complicated as they grow.


**6.  Sensitivity- Living this react to changes around them.  We react to touch, light, heat, cold and sound, as do other living things.


**7.  Reproduction- All living thing produce young.  Humans make babies, cats produce kittens, and pigeons lay eggs.  Plants also reproduce.  Many make seeds which can germinate and grow into new plants.


All taken from



Things can be compared and contrasted using characteristics such as appearances, behaviors, habitats, etc.




Cumulative questions:

      How can you tell if an object is living or non-living?

         What makes any group similar/alike (I.e. birds, dogs, mammals) and what makes them different?

         How are we (humans) like other living and non-living objects?



         What characteristics make something living?

         What characteristics make something non-living?

         What characteristics are and how can they be properly/appropriately applied and compared.




Lessons behind

Literature from K curriculum

Foss Tree Kit


General can be applied to all lessons and final unit assessment:



Star or Sticker

Smiley Face

Blah Face

Was able to complete worksheet on own.  Can verbalize using correct vocabulary.  Work or answers are correct.

Need some support to answer questions or complete worksheets.  Not using vocabulary correctly, but using appropriate vocabulary.

Needed help completing worksheets, unable to answer questions.  Does not use appropriate vocabulary. Unable to differentiate between living and non-living objects.












Lesson Plan Outline for Living /Non-Living Unit










Introduce 7 Characteristics of all living things.

Students and teacher will brainstorm and then create a poster of the 7 characteristics of living things.  The poster will serve as a reference for the rest of the unit.





Reinforce/review the 7 characteristics of all living things

Students will classify/sort objects/pictures into the proper groups (lt and nlt).  Students will be able to verbally communicate what makes and object living or non-living.





K-curriculum literature:

In a Nest (Unit 4)

Students learn about a variety of animals in their habitat from a book .The students will create a T graph of living and non-living objects from the literature.




Animals living

K-curriculum literature: 

A Trip to the Zoo (Unit 4)

Students will be exposed to more animals and their habitats.  The students will create a book of habitats that contain both living and non-living objects.





K-curriculum literature:

How a Seed Grows (Unit 4).

Students learn about the parts of the plants using the literature.  Students will create a plant and label the parts.






K-curriculum book-

Are You a Ladybug?

Students learn about insects including a discussion of how insects met the 7 Characteristics of living things.





Foss kit

Activity 1 parts 1 and 2

Looking at Schoolyard Trees and A Tree Comes to Class.  Plus 3 extension/center activities (parts 3, 4, 5 and 6). Tree- silhouette cards, tree-part cards, tree-part booklet.





Foss Kit

Activity 1 parts 7 and 8

Adopt Schoolyard Tree and Plant a Class Tree

Can continue extensions from above.





Foss Kit

Activity 2 parts 1 and 3

Leaf Walk and Comparing Leaves.  Plus extensions/centers (parts 2, 4, 5,6)





Foss Kit

Activity 2 part 7

Our Very Own Tree. Can continue extensions from above.