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Living and Nonliving Things: Pre-K or Kindergarten Activities

written by: Tracey Bleakley • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 6/6/2012

Learning about living and nonliving things is an important science topic for young learners. Try these activities to help your students gain a strong understanding of this concept.

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    Introduce the Topic

    To introduce the topic to your students bring a picture of a potted flower, an animal, like a dog or a turtle, and a rock. Show the pictures to the class and ask them to think about which ones are living and which are not living. Tape the three pictures across the top of a large piece of bulletin board paper. Tell the students that living things have certain needs. Down the side of the paper write:

    1. Living things eat.
    2. Living things grow and change.
    3. Living things move.
    4. Living things reproduce.

    Discuss each one and what it means then look at your three pictures and put an 'X' under the ones that meet each requirement. You'll have four x's under the flower and the animal and none under the rock. You may need to talk about how flowers can turn to face the sun and how they reproduce by making seeds. Explain that the flower and the animal are living things, but that the rock is not living.

    Have the students think of a few more examples and check them with your chart. For a quick assessment have each student draw a picture of something that is living.

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    Make a Living and Nonliving Big Book

    Another fun activity is to take your students on a walk around your school grounds looking for living and nonliving things. Before you go review the characteristics of living things. As you walk have students tell you the things that they see. You might want to bring a notebook or clipboard so that you can write them down.

    When you return from your walk, look at your list with the students. Talk about each item and whether it is living or nonliving. Then write "A __________ is ____________ (living or nonliving)." on a sentence strip for each item that you saw. Assign pairs of students to each sentence and have them glue their sentence strip on a piece of paper and illustrate. When all of the sentence strips are illustrated, you can bind them together into a living and nonliving big book.

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    Center Ideas

    You can make a few easy center activities to go along with your study of living things.

    First provide eight or ten pictures of different things, both living and nonliving. Make a sort mat labeled Living and Nonliving. The students can practice sorting the pictures onto the mat and then checking them with a friend.

    For another activity provide old magazines for the students to cut pictures out of. They can glue the pictures onto 2 pieces of construction paper to make a living things collage and nonliving things collage.

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    There are a few great books to help your students understand living and nonliving things.

    • What's Alive? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld uses simple language in a question and answer format and many examples to help young students understand this sometimes tricky concept.
    • Are You Living?: A Song About Living and Nonliving Things by Laura Purdie Salas introduces living things using a song. Kindergarteners will learn that living things move and eat in this catchy science song to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?"
    • Living and Nonliving (Nature Basics) by Carol K. Lindeen explains living and nonliving things to young children using simple text and bright photographs.

    You can find all of these books and others at Amazon.

    These activities work great with this living and nonliving lesson plan.