Beacon Lesson Plan Library

It's Alive

Renee Benefield


This lesson is designed to allow the student to critically analyze living and nonliving objects, then develop a list of characteristics to classify objects on a science walk. Students make a book to close out the lesson.


The student knows how to classify things as living and nonliving.

The student knows that environments have living and nonliving parts.


-Large chart paper or chalkboard (The chart paper is easy to relocate to a bulletin board or science center.)
-Pencils, crayons, markers for student use
-Objects or pictures that would be considered living and nonliving
-Student copy of My Living Organism Book (See Associated File)
-Blank paper for science walk list


1. Put up chart paper.
2. Print My Living Organism Book. (See Associated File)
3. Copy the pages of My Living Organism Book front and back.
4. Cut and staple the books if you want to preassemble them for the students.
5. Gather pictures (or real objects) of living and nonliving things.


1. Explain that during the science lesson today students will be sorting objects into 2 categories. Show all of the pictures of different objects (rocks, animals, plants, water, people, etc.).

2. Ask students how they could sort the objects into 2 separate groups. Hopefully the students observe that some of the objects are living and others are nonliving. You may have to give some hints to begin the classification of pictures.

3. After students have developed the titles for the groups, living and nonliving things, ask the students what did they look for in the objects to help sort the living from the nonliving objects.

4. Begin writing down the characteristics under “living” and others under “nonliving.” Ask probing questions to elict responses to expand the list, but allow the students to generate the list from their own knowledge base. This would be a good time to introduce the word “organism” which in simple terms means “a living thing that is dependent on other living things to survive.” Some things that should be listed include:

Living organisms:
a. grow and change
b. need air, water, food and shelter to survive
c. most move
d. can make more living organisms that look similar to themselves

Nonliving things:
a. do not need food, water or air to live
b. do not grow and change
c. do not move on their own

5. Spark the students' curiosity by discussing how some living organisms can be changed into nonliving things that we use: wood, paper, clothing (cotton and wool), sea sponges, and plants for food which is cooked.

6. Lead a discussion on how living organisms, no matter what size, require the same basic needs to survive and have similiar characteristics of other living organisms, such as movement or growth.

7. Evoke discussion that living organisms are in every place on the earth by asking students where living organisms can be found.

8. Tell the students they will be going on a science walk to look for living and nonliving things. Students need to take paper and pencils.

9. Pass out blank paper and tell students to label one side “living” and the other side “nonliving.”

10. Guide students through the building, playground, etc. Allow students to explore for insects, plants, birds, spiders and nonliving objects also. They write down objects they see, living and nonliving.

11. Return to the classroom and review characteristics of living and nonliving objects. Check to make sure items that students have listed are categorized correctly.

12. Give directions for completion of the little book called, My Living Organism Book. (See Associated File) Students need to cut the horizontal line of the book and staple the book with the bottom part inside of the top part. (Teacher may choose to go ahead and assemble the books.)

13. Students are to pick their favorite living organism and fill in the blanks in the book.

14. Students illustrate their books.

15. Allow time for the students to complete this independent work. Circulate and assist as needed.

16. Collect the books and look over them for accuracy of facts.


After students have participated in generating a list of characteristics for living and nonliving objects, the students observe and list objects on their own recording sheets. The students illustrate a book that contains information on a selected living organism to show their understanding of how the selected organism varies in its characteristics from other forms of living organisms. These two products are used as formative assessments.


Students could discuss different variables such as size of living organisms, habitats and adaptations that the species have made to survive. Students could expand their knowledge base to include animals in extinction or endangered, and develop ideas as to why this happened to those specific animals.

Attached Files

This file contains the pages for the My Living Organism Book.     File Extension: pdf

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