Classifying items as living or non-living is an important lesson of kindergarten life science. Introducing pupils to the characteristics of living things helps them make sense of the world around them. Science activities based on living and non-living things also help incorporate math skills, such as sorting, and language skills such as describing. Kindergartners enjoy exploring scientific concepts and will delight in applying their newly acquired skills.
After introducing pupils to the basic characteristics of living and non-living things, have them apply their knowledge by creating a collage. Hang a large piece of butcher paper in the front of the classroom and divide the paper into two sections. Label the sections "Living" and "Non-Living." Explain to pupils that they will be searching magazines for pictures of living and non-living things. Distribute magazines to work tables and guide the pupils to find appropriate pictures. Have them cut the picture out and attach it to the correct section of the paper with tape or glue. Stand near the collage to guide pupils in categorizing the pictures correctly. Guide the children's thinking by challenging them to explain why pictures belong in each section. Gather pupils in front of the collage and discuss the results. Hang the collage in the science center for pupils to explore further.
Science Alphabet Book
Tie writing into science by creating a class book about living and non-living things. Begin by reviewing characteristics of living things and examples of living and non-living things. Photocopy page templates that read "A ___ is alive, but a ___ is not." Assign each pupil a letter of the alphabet and guide them to think of living and non-living items that begin with that letter. Encourage pupils to brainstorm with their peers. Help them write the words on the lines and illustrate both items. For example, the pupil assigned letter M could write, "A mouse is alive, but a mop is not." If letters remain unassigned, have pupils who finish early create a second page. When all pages are completed, create a cover and bind the book in alphabetical order. After sharing the book with the class, place it in the classroom library for pupils to enjoy.
Living and Non-Living Hunt
Engage the pupils and get a little fresh air in this hands-on science hunt. Divide the class into groups of three or four. Give each group a paper bag and lead the pupils outside. Explain the task: They should collect 10 items in the bag and return to the meeting place. Remind the pupils of outside boundaries and review what signal will tell them to return, such as a bell or whistle. Allow the groups to explore and fill their bags. After you return to the classroom, have each group sort their items into living and non-living. Provide guidance and resolve any disputes about items. For example, pupils may have a hard time deciding whether a leaf is living or non-living. If needed, allow them to sort items into a third category, "used to be living." Check each group's work and gather the class together to discuss their findings. If you wish, create a graph showing how many living and non-living objects the class collected.
What Can Grow?
Most pupils can recognize that plants are living things. However, kindergartners may find it difficult to understand how plants are created from seeds. To help pupils explore what can grow a living thing, try a simple long-term experiment. Introduce three items -- a marble, a seed and a rock -- and ask pupils to predict which items will grow. Encourage pupils to discuss their previous experiences with the items. Plant each item in potting soil in three clear plastic cups. This is a perfect time to introduce the needs of living things -- space, water and sun. Create a small science journal for each child and allow time for pupils to record the planting of the items and their predictions. Every day, assign pupils to water all three cups. Over the next week or two, observe the cups daily and have pupils record the progress in their science journals. Pupils will delight in watching the seed grow roots and sprout. Discuss the differences between living and non-living objects throughout the experiment.
- Utah Education Network: Going on a Living and Nonliving Hunt
- Scott Foresman Kindergarten Science; Scott Foresman; 2006
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