Lesson Plan:

Living or Nonliving? How to Tell

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November 1, 2015
by Susan Russell

Learning Objectives

Students will use their knowledge of the characteristics of living and nonliving things to identify objects.


Introduction (10 minutes)

  • Tell students that all objects or things on Earth can be classified as living, or alive, or nonliving, or not alive.
  • Ask students if they can determine if an object is living or nonliving.
  • Discuss and write down appropriate answers. Potential guiding questions include: Does the object breathe? Does it need food?

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (15 minutes)

  • Post two pieces of chart paper at the front of the room.
  • Draw a circle on each piece of chart paper, and label one circle Living Things and the other circle Nonliving Things.
  • Surround the big circles with 4 small circles connected by a line to the big circle.
  • Tell students that you will be listing the characteristics, or qualities, of living and nonliving things.
  • In the small circles surrounding the large Living Things circle, write characteristics. For example: something that eats, drinks, grow or changes, and can make other things like itself.
  • In the small circles surrounding the large Nonliving Things circle, list characteristics. For example: does not eat, drink, grow, and make other things like itself.
  • Discuss the differences with the class between the two webs.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (10 minutes)

  • At the bottom of each web chart created during explicit instruction, write the word Examples.
  • Ask for student volunteers to help you identify at least 5 living and 5 nonliving things for each web chart. Draw from objects in the classroom.
  • Display webs as anchor charts for the independent activity.

Independent Working Time (20 minutes)

  • Hand out 5 index cards to each student.
  • Ask students to cut their cards in half.
  • Instruct students to draw pictures of 5 living things and 5 nonliving things on the cards. Have them write the name of the object they drew on the card so their object can be easily identified.
  • Tell students to exchange their set of 10 cards with a friend.
  • Next, pass out colored construction paper.
  • Tell students to draw a line down the center of the paper and label one side Living Things and the other side Nonliving Things.
  • Direct your students to glue the cards they have under the appropriate category.
  • Ask students to write a sentence describing the characteristics of living things and the characteristics of nonliving things under the appropriate column.



  • Enrichment: Challenge advanced students by asking them to list 5 living things and 5 nonliving things found in different environments such as the desert, rainforest, and woodlands.
  • Support: Give your students pictures of living things such as animals and nonliving things such as staplers, and have them identify qualities of each.


Assessment (5 minutes)

  • Collect the students' completed work, and give feedback to each student.

Review and Closing (5 minutes)

  • Look around the class, and pick out certain objects.
  • Ask your students to identify whether the object is living or nonliving.
  • Show pictures of living and nonliving things. Have your students classify these objects.

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