Lesson Plan

Living Things Vs. Nonliving Things Lesson Plan

Grade Levels


Course, Subject



Describing characteristics of living and nonliving things




Students will be able to compare living and nonliving things.

Students will be able to identify characteristics of living and nonliving things.

Students will be able to identify plants, animals and people as living things.

Lesson Essential Question(s)

What is alive?

What isn't alive?


120 minutes / 2 large group lessons


The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds:  A Book About How Living Things Grow by Joanna Cole and John Speirs also can also be viewed on discovery education united streaming

Sets of Pictures of living and nonliving things for group activity such as cat, car, squirrel, bicycle, bus, blocks, board game, flower, tree, fly, airplane, bee, child, adult

A gold fish in its habitat and a large river rock

interactive smartboard set to website: http://pbskids.org/dragonflytv/show/livingthings.html

interactive smartboard set to website  http://www.schools.utah.gov/curr/science/sciber00/7th/classify/living/quiz/livingqu.htm

Art paper


science journal

individual assessment Living and Nonliving Performance Assessment.doc

Suggested Instructional Strategies


By the end of this lesson, students will be able to compare living and nonliving things by identifying characteristics of both living and nonliving things. Students will also be able to identify plants, animals, and people as living things.


Students become engaged by assessing prior knowledge by comparing and contrasting various pictures and seeking a way to sort them into 2 groups.


Students watch video clips of living things while identifying living and nonliving things viewed in the video. In a second activity students listen and discuss a story that address the characteristics of living things. In a final activity students observe two distinct objects ( living and nonliving) throughout the day and part of the next writing and drawing in their journal.


Use formative assessment techniques to determine which students need additional practice or reteaching. Work with these students individually or in small groups to reinforce understanding of the new vocabulary.


Observation of students as they participate in activities can be used to assess understanding. The completed journaling of their observation and the completed picture and statement activity, and the participation of the whole class review assessment.


This lesson may be tailored to individual needs by pairing struggling students with more capable ones. The lesson provides opportunities for students to learn through visual and auditory activities.


Students work in a small sgroup, in a large group, and individually to complete the activities of this lesson.


Instructional Procedures


Anticipatory Set:

To assess prior knowledge about living and non-living things, randomly display pictures such as the following along the board ledge: car, cat, squirrel, bicycle, bus, blocks, board game, flower, tree, fly, airplane, bee, child, adult. Place students into small groups of 3 or 4.  Pass out sets of pictures to each group.  Ask students to think of a way to sort all the pictures into just two groups (things that are living and things that are not living). Help them also see that the "living things" are plants, animals, or people

Ask the guiding questions:

 What is alive?

What isn’t alive?

 Talk about the difference between living and non-living things by reviewing their responses to the game.


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.



Visit the website :

http://pbskids.org/dragonflytv/show/livingthings.html to watch clips of living things. After viewing the website, have students name things that are non-living. Record answers on the interactive smart board. This website contains many video clips of living things.

Read The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds : A Book About How Living Things Grow to students. Have students discuss the characteristics of living things. Record their responses on the interactive smartboardboard.

Set up and display a goldfish habitat in a fishbowl. Place a large river rock beside the fishbowl. Have the class observe the rock and the goldfish throughout the day drawing pictures of what they are observing.

Lesson #2

Ask guiding questions above: What is alive? What is not alive? Encourage students to share their journal pictures describe and compare how each looked and acted, and share what they observed. Rock and goldfish
Remind students that when they compare, they tell how things are alike and different.
Discuss what makes each living or non-living. Have students list the three types of living things: animals, plants, and people. Have them share what living things need to survive.
Chart their responses on interactive smartboard

Provide art paper for students to draw what they've observed. Have them write a statement about what makes one or both living or nonliving.  Assist students with statements. 

As a class, take the Living Things quiz on the website


Discuss the answers as the class is taking the quiz.
After taking the quiz, give students the assessment activity individually.






Formative Assessment

Related Materials & Resources

  • 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
  • http://www.vtaide.com/png/livingthings2.htm


Jennifer Bradley

Date Published

July 24, 2011
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