Living and Non-Living Things (Grade 1)

Rationale:  Making science meaningful can be accomplished by connecting concepts to the students’ lives.  Allowing students to choose what to draw will give the teacher information about each child’s interests.  Varying questions ensures that all children will succeed in the class task.  Constructing a graphic organizer with each child’s contribution empowers students while they practice communication and critical thinking skills.

Benchmarks:  SC.A.1.1.1,  SC.G.1.1.1,  SC.H.1.1.1,  SC.H.1.1.4

DI Strategy:  Graphic Organizer and Varying Questions

Differentiate What?  Content and Questions

Differentiate How?  Interest

Resources needed:
Chart or mural for graphic organizer
4x6 index card for each student
Pencil for each student
Sentence strips for students requiring a model:  “I saw a __  _________.”
Student copies of graphic organizer:  T-chart <>
Note:  Students' cards can be used in later activities, so use tape, or some other means so that cards can be easily removed from the T-chart and reused on later graphing/graphic tasks.

Teacher preparation:  Plan a 30-45 minute walk in the community, and tell the children that they will come back to the room and draw one thing from the walk.  Tell them they are going to practice using the first skill of a scientist, observation.  The nature of observation should be explored before the walk.  The use of describing words should also be discussed.  Mural/chart paper will be posted for the students' observation cards.

Explanation of activity:  Upon returning to the classroom, students will be instructed to draw one thing that they observed on the walk and to write a telling sentence with a describing word.  Use the students’ cards to illustrate the importance of describing words and relate to scientists' communication skills. Students take turns reading the sentence, showing the picture, and posting the card/drawing on the chart paper.
When all cards are posted, pose the problem:  There are so many ideas here.  How can we organize them so that there aren’t so many at once or so it is easier to find one?  Return the cards to the students and begin brainstorming how to categorize the set.
The objective is to have the class determine that these drawings can be placed in either the living or non-living groups. Careful questioning by the teacher will lead the students to derive the rule for deciding living and non living categories. The next activity will focus on learning that different plants and animals live in environments that meet their needs.

Varying questions: from concrete to abstract.  Match question to learner’s ability.
             Concrete                              Abstract
     What did you draw?              What are some things you would not find in our neighborhood?
                                                    (didn't draw)
     Where did you see it?            Why do you think it was there?
     Where does it live?                What else lives there?
     Is it alive?                               How do you know it is/is not alive?

Teacher Role:  Teacher will lead this activity.

Duration:  Classroom discussions and graphic organizer construction will take 20-30 minutes.

Give each student a copy of a blank T-chart with the direction, “Now you show some things from the schoolyard/classroom/our walk that are living and nonliving.
Observational data
Benchmark checklist available at <>

Lisa Bullington
Ruediger Elementary