This page provides information to support educators and families when teaching K-3 students about living and nonliving things. It is designed to complement the Living and Nonliving Things topic on BrainPOP Jr.    

Ask children to look around them. What do they see? Do you see living or nonliving things? How do they know? Brainstorm different living things together and write them down. They may brainstorm things like dogs, cats, birds, insects, trees, flowers, and different people in their lives. Invite children to compare and contrast the different living things they mentioned. Explain that even though they look really different, living things are alike in many ways. They all need energy to survive. Animals hunt and eat food to get energy and plants use sunlight to make their own food via photosynthesis. Point out that nearly all animals need food, water, and air to survive. While most animals need sunlight to survive, explain that there are animals that live deep in the ocean that can survive without it.

Help children understand that all living things grow, change, and die. Describe the life cycle of a tree and how it starts as a seed that sprouts into a seedling and grows and changes into a tree that blooms flowers and bears fruit. Over time, the tree will die. 

Explain that all living things reproduce, and make more of its own kind. People can have babies, bears have cubs, and plants can grow fruit which contain seeds that grow into plants.

Now show children a nonliving thing, such a rock and ask them to identify whether it is living or nonliving. Discuss why the rock is nonliving: it can’t grow or change on its own, it doesn’t need food for energy, and it can’t reproduce. Have students brainstorm nonliving things. Then hold up a pencil and have students explain if it’s living or nonliving. Help them understand that while a pencil is a nonliving thing—it doesn’t need food for energy and it can’t reproduce—it is made out of wood from trees, which are living things. Have your students come up with other nonliving things that are made out of living things, such as paper, cotton clothing, and leather shoes. Inspire your students to be curious about the world around them and understand how living and nonliving things are connected.