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Living Things and Non Living Things

Living Things and Non Living Things

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Living & Non Living things around us

Assessment to identify Living & Non-living Things

Students will describe the characteristics that determine if something is living (ability to grow and change, reacting to its environment, needing a food/energy source, taking in gases, reproducing, and having cells), dead, or non-living.

Distinguish between living and non-living things and be able to tell what makes something living or non-living.

• Bag/Jar for collection
• Large Sheets of Paper
• Marker
• Collection of living (plant, leaf, twig, bug, pictures of animals and people) and nonliving (chalk, eraser, rock, sand, cup of water, plastic object, pencil, coin) things
• Magazines
• Scissors
• Tape

Initial Observation:
Divide the students into small groups (~4 per group). Tell students they are to collect 4 objects each from the playground. Take the class to the playground or other outside area. Allow 5-10 minutes for collecting specimens. Return to the classroom. Give the students 5-10 minutes to classify their groups – challenge groups to come up with several different classifications. Discuss the classifications, with particular emphasis on those that used living/non-living distinctions. Which classifications are best for science? Today we’re going to talk about one scientific classification – Living/non-living.

Target Observations:
• Objects can be classified by:
o Living/non-living
o Color
o Shape
o Hard/soft
• Living/non-living and Hard/soft could be used for scientific classification.

Target Model:
-Objects can be classified as Living or Non-living.

Ask the students what makes a living thing different from a non-living thing.
Living: They breathe (take in or release gases), take in energy (food), grow or change, made of cells, reproduce, react to the environment. This includes people animals and plants
Non-living: possess some of the characteristics of living things.
Once living: things that were once living (had all 6 characteristics) but are now dead.

Review common non-living things with living characteristics: exhibit one or several living
characteristics but not all of them:
Clouds: have ability to move and change
Water: ability to move and change, react to environment
Fire: needs oxygen, energy, grows and changes
Icicle: react to environment, move and change

Give each group a large piece of paper and a marker. Have the students fold their piece of paper in half. Tell the students to write the word ‘living’ on one side of the paper, and ‘non-living’ onthe other. Have all of the groups sort their objects into the living/non-living categories byfollowing the 6 criteria established above. As you monitor this activity, you may need to add to a group’s collection to insure that each classification is adequately represented.

After 10 minutes, call a halt to the activity. Call upon each group to share the objects in the living column. Ask students why they put specific items in that circle. For example, why didyou put the flower in the living circle? Students should respond with the definition of a living thing: alive now or was once alive. Have students carefully return the objects to the bag. Collect the bags.

Target Observations:
• Living things are things that have (or had) all of the following characteristics:
o Breathe (take in or release gases)
o Take in energy (food)
o Grow or change
o Made of Cells
o Reproduce
o React to the environment
• Some non-living things (like clouds, fire, and water) have a few characteristics of living
things, but not all.

Target Model:
-Objects can be classified as Living or Non-living.
-Living things are have all of the characteristics:
-Breathe (take in or release gases)
-Take in energy (food)
-Grow or change
-Made of Cells
-React to the environment
-Some non-living things have a few characteristics of living things.

Write the following words on the board and go through each of the six characteristics to decide if it is living or non-living. If it is non-living, which living characteristics does it have?
River (non-living): Moves/changes, reacts to the environment.
Icicle (non-living): Moves/changes, reacts to the environment
Tornado (non-living): Moves/changes, reproduces, reacts to the environment
Truck (non-living): Breathes, Take in energy, Moves/changes
Dog (living)
Tree (living)
Bird (living)

If there is still time, ask each student get a magazine and a pair of scissors. Tell each student to cut out different pictures of living and non-living things. They will place them on their group’s living/non-living paper and tape them down.


There are living and non-living things all around us. Go outside and explore. You can find both living and non-living things. Look inside your house and other buildings such as a grocery store.

Can you name five things that you think are living?
How do you know they are living?
Can you name five things that you think are non-living?
How do you know they are not living?

*These are some example of living things:
Tree, Fruit, Flowers , Cow , Dog , Cat

*These are some example of non-living things:
Building, Book, Table, Chair,Clothes

You have probably already noticed that nothing around us is the same. A carpenter makes chairs. Toys and bicycles are made by people in factories. How many things do you see around you that are made by people? Things that are made by people are called man-made things.

Can we make a fish, flowers, the sun, or the air? The answer is no. We cannot make these things. These things cannot be created by men or women. They are created in nature.

Things that are created in nature are called natural things (living things) while things that made by people are man-made things (non-living things).

Here is some list of man-made and natural things

Man-made things (Non-living things)
Pots & Pans
Pencil, Pen , Books
Car, Bicycle

Natural things (Living things)
Sun, Moon, Stars.

Both lists show many different things. Some of these things can move while others cannot. Some of these things need food while others do not. Some can grow, others do not grow. Some breathe, others do not breathe. A table, chair, pencil, and clothes cannot grow. These things cannot talk or walk. Things, which do not grow, move, or respond are called non-living things.

A baby plant grows into a big plant or into a tree. A puppy grows into a dog. A baby grows into a person. Things that grow, breathe, and respond are called living things.

All man-made things are non-living things, but not all natural things are living things. While people, animals, and plants are living natural things, stars, mountains, clouds, air, and water are non-living natural things

Something that is specific to a certain thing is called a trait. All living things have common traits that separate them from non-living things. Here is a list of the most common traits living things share.

i) All living things grow
You have probably seen pictures from when you were a baby. You do not look anything like you did back then. You were smaller. You had less hair and teeth. You weighed less. You have also probably seen pictures of your parents when they were your age. They have changed quite a bit since then. That is because, as a living thing they grow as they get older. People are not the only things that grow. Plants grow from seeds to full grown trees, grass, and flowers. Puppies grow into dogs, and kittens grow into cats.

ii) All living things can move
Move your hand back and forth. Kick your feet. Watch a fish swim in its tank. It is common for living things to move. Even plants move in their own way. As they grow the stem grows and moves upward. The flowers bloom as they fold outward. The leaves fan out as they move in their own way as well. Even some of the smallest living things can move. A gnat can fly around. So can bees and flies. A cricket hops around much like a grasshopper does.

iii) All living things need energy to live
The most common source of energy is food. Living things ‘take in’ food in order to live and survive. A plant must make its own food in order to grow and thrive. A person must eat food and drink water to survive. Food is a necessity for all living things. A necessity is something you cannot live without or you will die.

iv) All living things respond
Try shining a flashlight in your eyes. Your response will be to blink your eyes. That is because all living things have the ability to respond to what isaround them. Humans use their five senses, the ability talk, and the ability to move to respond to everything around them.

v) All living things reproduce
Living things are created by other living things. This is called reproduction. When a human is reproduced a mother has a baby. Animals reproduce by having babies, as well. Plants reproduce through their seeds that are replanted to turn into new plants. Even the tiniest (microscopic) living things are able to reproduce

Chart : Living & Non Living Things

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Characteristics of Non Living Things

Introduction to Characteristics of Non-living things
The world consists of both living and non-living things. Any object that does not possess “Life” or living characteristics is a non-living thing. A living cell is made up of a number of organic and inorganic chemical substances that are themselves non-living, yet when present in the living body become vital constituents.

Characteristics of Non-living Things
The basic Characteristics of Non-living things are described as following -
•The most important characteristic of non-living things is the absence of protoplasm, the fundamental basis of life. For example, cells are absent in stones or any non-living things.
•Due to the absence of protoplasm, no metabolic activities are possible in the non-living things.
•The structural organization like tissue, organ or system is never found in non-living things.
•The non-living things usually do not have any definite form or size of their own. Liquids assume the shape of the container. A liquid like water when heated changes into the gaseous state or can be even frozen into the solid state and thus it has no definite form.
•The movement, if observed, is never automatic but occurs under any other external influence.
•Another characteristics of Non-living things is that growth occurs by accretion, i.e. by addition of materials from outside. For example a crystal in a solution or a snowball may grow larger in size due to the accumulation of particles of its own unit on the outer surface of the original body.
•The absence of nutrition, excretion, respiration, reproduction, irritability and adaptation are the characteristics of non-living things.
•The unlimited duration of existence or immortality is a vital characteristic of non-living things.

Classification Based on Characteristics of Non Living Things
All non-living matters on the earth can be classified into two primary types based on the characteristic of non-living things.

•Non-living things which were never part of a living entity. Glass, stone or gold or any chemical elements are all such examples.
•Non-living things which though are presently non-living but were once a part of living entity. Best example is of coal that was formed as a result of death and decomposition of living plants. Paper is itself non-living thing, but it is also made from trees.

Living and Non-living Things

Living Things
We are surrounded by living and non-living things. All animals and plants are living things and biology is the study of these living things. A cat playing with a ball is obviously living. A pigeon flying from tree to tree is also a living thing.
Sometimes it is not so easy to decide. Plants are living things but they do not play with balls or fly. If something is living it will carry out all of the seven activities shown opposite.
Some non-living things show one or two of the seven characteristics of living things. Machines, such as washing machines, can move. The car needs to be fed with petrol in order to move.
Crystals, such as ice crystals forming on a window, grow bigger if the conditions are right. For something to be living it has to show all of the seven characteristics of living things.

Non-living things
Sand, wood and glass are all non-living things. None of them shows any of the characteristics listed above. Non-living things can be divided into two groups. First, come those which were never part of a living thing, such as stone and gold.
The second group are those which were once part of living things. Coal is a good example. It was formed when trees died and sank into the soft ground. This happened many millions of years ago when the Earth was covered with forests. Paper is non-living but it is also made from trees. Jam is also non-living but it was made from the fruit of a plant.

The Seven Characteristics of Living Things

All living organisms need to take substances from their environment to obtain energy, to grow and to stay healthy.
All living organisms show movement of one kind or another. All living organisms have internal movement, which means that they have the ability of moving substances from one part of their body to another. Some living organisms show external movement as well - they can move from place to place by walking, flying or swimming.
Breathing or Respiration
All living things exchange gases with their environment. Animals take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.
Excretion is the removal of waste from the body. If this waste was allowed to remain in the body it could be poisonous. Humans produce a liquid waste called urine. We also excrete waste when we breathe out. All living things need to remove waste from their bodies.
When living things feed they gain energy. Some of this energy is used in growth. Living things become larger and more complicated as they grow.
Living things react to changes around them. We react to touch, light, heat, cold and sound, as do other living things.
All living things produce young. Humans make babies, cats produce kittens and pigeons lay eggs. Plants also reproduce. Many make seeds which can germinate and grow into new plants.

Characteristics of Living Things

Defining a living thing is a difficult proposition, as is defining “life”—that property possessed by living things. However, a living thing possesses certain properties that help define what life is.

Complex organization
Living things have a level of complexity and organization not found in lifeless objects. At its most fundamental level, a living thing is composed of one or more cells. These units, generally too small to be seen with the unaided eye, are organized into tissues. A tissue is a series of cells that accomplish a shared function. Tissues, in turn, form organs, such as the stomach and kidney. A number of organs working together compose an organ system. An organism is a complex series of various organ systems.

Living things exhibit a rapid turnover of chemical materials, which is referred to as metabolism. Metabolism involves exchanges of chemical matter with the external environment and extensive transformations of organic matter within the cells of a living organism. Metabolism generally involves the release or use of chemical energy. Nonliving things do not display metabolism.

All living things are able to respond to stimuli in the external environment. For example, living things respond to changes in light, heat, sound, and chemical and mechanical contact. To detect stimuli, organisms have means for receiving information, such as eyes, ears, and taste buds.

To respond effectively to changes in the environment, an organism must coordinate its responses. A system of nerves and a number of chemical regulators called hormones coordinate activities within an organism. The organism responds to the stimuli by means of a number of effectors, such as muscles and glands. Energy is generally used in the process.

Organisms change their behavior in response to changes in the surrounding environment. For example, an organism may move in response to its environment. Responses such as this occur in definite patterns and make up the behavior of an organism. The behavior is active, not passive; an animal responding to a stimulus is different from a stone rolling down a hill. Living things display responsiveness; nonliving things do not.

Growth requires an organism to take in material from the environment and organize the material into its own structures. To accomplish growth, an organism expends some of the energy it acquires during metabolism. An organism has a pattern for accomplishing the building of growth structures.

During growth, a living organism transforms material that is unlike itself into materials that are like it. A person, for example, digests a meal of meat and vegetables and transforms the chemical material into more of himself or herself. A nonliving organism does not display this characteristic.

A living thing has the ability to produce copies of itself by the process known as reproduction. These copies are made while the organism is still living. Among plants and simple animals, reproduction is often an extension of the growth process. For example, bacteria grow and quickly reach maturity, after which they split into two organisms by the process of asexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction involves only one parent, and the resulting cells are generally identical to the parent cell.

More complex organisms engage in a type of reproduction called sexual reproduction, in which two parents contribute to the formation of a new individual. During this process, a new combination of traits can be produced. The process is generally more complex than asexual reproduction, requiring that parents find one another, then (usually) care for their offspring before it can live independently. Nonliving things have no such ability or requirements.

Populations of living organisms have the ability to adapt to their environment through the process of evolution. During evolution, changes occur in populations, and the organisms in the population become better able to metabolize, respond, and reproduce. They develop abilities to cope with their environment that their ancestors did not have.Evolution also results in a greater variety of organisms than existed in previous eras. This proliferation of populations of organisms is unique to living things.

The environment influences the living things that it surrounds. Ecology is the study of relationships between organisms and their relationships with their environment. Living things can alter their environment, but nonliving things cannot. Living things, for example, may migrate or hibernate if the environment becomes difficult to live in.