Grade Levels: 3-5, K-3

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-5, students learn about the life cycle of a plant or animal by watching a BrainPOP or BrainPOP Jr. movie, then use Make-a-Map to recreate the featured life cycle.   

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about life cycles.
  2. Watch a movie about a life cycle.
  3. Use Make-a-Map to identify stages of a life cycle.
  4. Present the life cycle to classmates.


  • Internet access
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Background page (BrainPOP Jr. only)


  • Preview the selected life cycle-related movie to plan for adaptations.
  • Use the Assignment Builder to assign Make-a-Map to students.
  • Review the Background page for the topic (BrainPOP Jr. only)

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students to share what they know about life cycles, and specifically about the life cycle related to the topic you are studying (e.g., tree, butterfly, etc.) Jot their ideas on the board.
  2. Project the BrainPOP Jr. or BrainPOP topic on the whiteboard. Watch the movie as a class. Turn on the closed caption option to aid in comprehension. Pause as needed to explain concepts and vocabulary.
  3. Next, if you have access to multiple computers or devices, have pairs or small groups watch the movie again within the Make-a-Map feature (You also can assign this in advance using the Assignment Builder). Instruct students to select the cycle map to recreate the life cycle they are learning about. Remind them that they can incorporate clips and images from the movie into their maps. NOTE: If you choose to do a multi-topic study of life cycles in your class, each group can create a cycle for a different topic.
  4. Finally, have each group share their life cycle with another group, describing the steps of the cycle. If groups are focusing on different types of life cycles, they should present to the entire class.
  5. Review the brainstorm notes from the beginning of the lesson to confirm what’s true or not.
  6. Share the life cycle maps with families so that students can review this topic at home. You can do this by printing them out or by sharing electronically through the Assignment Builder.

Extension Activities:

Invite groups to “act out” the lifecycle, with each student re-enacting the stage in sequence. Have groups perform for the class.