|Students learn about the characteristics and needs of living things.|
|Standards and Benchmarks|
|Class Time Needed|
|One forty minute class period|
|Click here to download Worksheet One
Click here to download Worksheet Two
What do our classroom pets need to live?
|Students' Alternative Ideas|
Living and Non-Living
Alternative idea: Many elementary students believe things such as movement, breath, reproduction, and death decide whether things are alive. Therefore, many believe that things such as fire, clouds, and the sun are alive and plants are not alive.
Scientific idea: A living thing has the following characteristics: made of cells, obtain and use energy, grow and develop, reproduce, respond to their environment, and adapt to their environment. If an object does not exhibit all of these characteristics, like sugar crystals growing on the bottom of a syrup container, it is not living. In order for a living thing to survive, certain resources must be available and consumable, like water, air, food, warmth, mates, and other resources make life more comfortable like communication, shelter, transportation, etc. There is a difference between what an organism needs and what it wants. A living thing needs air, water, food, etc., a living thing (human) wants material things, shelter, etc.
Dealing with the alternative idea: Depending on your students' backgrounds and experiences, it might be worth adding in an entire lesson to discuss living and non living things. At the least, try to take some time at the beginning of the unit to find out what your students' ideas about what kinds of things are alive. This lesson is from a 3-5 CASES unit, but it might give you some ideas as you work with your students. Living or Non-Living lesson
|1. Pose the following scenario to the class: Suppose a group of aliens just landed on Earth. They see all of the different things around us and become curious about what things are living and what things are not living. In your science journals, answer the following question: How would you explain to the aliens how they can tell the difference between living and non-living things?
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
Emphasize that there are no right or wrong answers to this question. The goal is to get students thinking about the topic. Students may also want to simply list the things around them that are alive and those that aren't alive. Encourage them to go a step beyond this by explaining how they know whether something is living or not.
2. Facilitate a class discussion students' journal responses.
3. Do not correct any misunderstandings at this point. Use this discussion as an opportunity to learn more about the alternative ideas students might hold. Some students may believe that all living things move or breathe. So, they often think that things such as fire and clouds are alive while plants are not.
4. Place students into groups of 2-4.
5. Explain the task to students: Each group will be given several magazines. They are to work in their groups to cut out three things they think are living and three things they think are non-living. They then paste these on the worksheet (See Worksheet One). Finally, students should explain why they think each thing is living or non-living. The groups should be in agreement about the things they think are living and the things they think are non-living.
6. Once groups have finished, hold a class discussion. Have each group explain two or three of their choices. List the reasons students wrote for why they made the choices they did. If more than one group has the same criterion, put a check by it.
7. Try to steer students toward the following criteria: obtain and use energy, grow, reproduce, respond to their environment, adapt to their environment. Though students might not use the above terms, they should have be able to put these in their own words. Though being made of cells is a criterion, students at this age are too young to understand this abstract concept.
8. Explain that the list created on the board will be the criteria they use to determine whether something is living or not living.
9. Go through the list. Ask students if they want to add anything to the list. Ask students if they disagree with anything that is on the list.
10. Students will probably explain both the characteristics of living things and the needs of living things. Be sure to help students distinguish between these.
Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
How can I help my students collect evidence?
11. Explain the next part of the lesson to students: They are going to work in groups to determine whether several things are living or non-living using the criteria they developed as a class. Provide students with the second worksheet (See Worksheet Two).
12. Collect both worksheets. Using what they learned from the lesson, have students revise their original journal entries: How would you explain to the aliens how they can tell the difference between living and non-living things?
Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
|Collect students' worksheets and journal entries. You should be looking for whether or not students understand the characteristics and needs of living things.|
|Images of Inquiry|
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This lesson focuses on Questioning & Predicting and Explanations & Evidence. (more)
How Kayla taught this lesson
Author(s): CASES Team