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Living vs. Nonliving Things

Living vs. Nonliving Things

TEKS Objective

The student is expected to examine evidence that living organisms have basic needs such as food, water, and shelter for animals and air, water, nutrients, sunlight, and space for plants.

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Essential Understanding

The student knows that plants and animals have basic needs and depend on the living and nonliving things around them for survival. 

Science Background

What is Life? Annenberg Learner (website) - Distinguish between living organisms, dead things, and nonliving objects. Includes a video that provides adult background knowledge.

What is Life?
Annenberg Learner,

Wildlife’s Requirements for Survival: Texas Parks and Wildlife (PDF) - General information about the three basic things that all animals need to survive: food, water and shelter.

Wildlife’s Requirements for Survival
Texas Parks and Wildlife,

Signature Lesson

Is it Alive? Ohio Department of Education (PDF) - Students identify characteristics of living and non-living things, and use vocabulary to describe things with which they interact on a daily basis.

Is it Alive?
Ohio Department of Education,

Supporting Lessons

Websites for “What Are Living and Nonliving Things?” SciLinks (website) - Links to many lessons that teach core concepts such as why living things need air, water, soil, and light, and what happens if living organisms do not get these things.

Websites for “What Are Living and Nonliving Things?”

Elaboration Lessons and Extensions

Hey Diddle Diddle: Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin (PDF) - Use the nursery rhyme, “Hey Diddle Diddle,” to sort living organisms and nonliving objects.

Hey Diddle Diddle
Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin,

Assessment Ideas

Resources and the Environment - Assessments BioEd Online (PDF) - Assessment activity for use before and after a unit about resources and the environment, designed to evaluate students’ knowledge of the origins of natural and designed resources.

Resources and the Environment: Assessments
BioEd Online,

Literature Connections

Basic Needs. Feldman, Jean (ISBN-13: 978-1615902132)

What’s Alive? Zoehfeld, Kathleen (ISBN-13: 978-0780754133)

Living and Nonliving. Lindeen, Carol K. (ISBN-13: 978-1429628884)

Classification of Living and Nonliving Things. Rose, Elizabeth (ISBN-13: 978-1404228184)

Is it Living or Nonliving? Rissman, Rebecca (ISBN-13: 978-1432922795)

Are You Living? A Song About Living and Nonliving Things. Salas, Laura (ISBN-13: 978-1404853027)


Related Science TEKS

(K.1A) Science Safety
The student is expected to identify and demonstrate safe practices as described in the Texas Safety Standards during classroom and outdoor investigations, including wearing safety goggles, washing hands, and using materials appropriately.

(K.1B) Importance of Safe Practices
The student is expected to discuss the importance of safe practices to keep self and others safe and healthy.

(K.2A) Ask Questions
The student is expected to ask questions about organisms, objects, and events observed in the natural world.

(K.2B) Plan and Conduct Descriptive Investigations
The student is expected to plan and conduct simple descriptive investigations such as ways objects move.

(K.2C) Collect Data
The student is expected to collect data and make observations using simple equipment such as hand lenses, primary balances, and non-standard measurement tools.

(K.2D) Record and Organize Data & Observations
The student is expected to record and organize data and observations using pictures, numbers, and words.

(K.2E) Communicate Observations
The student is expected to communicate observations with others about simple descriptive investigations.

(K.3B) Make Predictions
The student is expected to make predictions based on observable patterns in nature such as the shapes of leaves.

(K.3C) Explore Scientists
The student is expected to explore that scientists investigate different things in the natural world and use tools to help in their investigations.

(K.4A) Tools for Collecting Information
The student will collect information using tools, including computers, hand lenses, primary balances, cups, bowls, magnets, collecting nets, and notebooks; timing devices, including clocks and timers; non-standard measuring items such as paper clips and clothespins; weather instruments such as demonstration thermometers and wind socks; and materials to support observations of habitats of organisms such as terrariums and aquariums.

(K.4B) Five Senses
The student is expected to use senses as a tool of observation to identify properties and patterns of organisms, objects, and events in the environment. 

Related Math TEKS

K.8A    The student is expected to describe and identify an object by its attributes using informal language (including shape, size, type, color, texture, or use).

K.8B    The student is expected to compare two objects based on their attributes.

K.9A    The student is expected to describe and compare the attributes of real-life objects such as balls, boxes, cans, and cones or models of three-dimensional geometric figures.

K.15A  The student is expected to justify his or her thinking using objects, words, pictures, numbers, and technology. 

Additional Resources

Ourselves: BBC Schools (website) - Interactive game in which students identify objects as either living or non-living.

BBC Schools,

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