Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students define living and non-living things. They will examine two habitats of differing biological diversity in order to examine the variety of living and non-living things in each environment.


Explain to students that, in order to help Atto understand living things on Earth, they are going to study the biodiversity of their schoolyard and explain it to Atto for his report.

Define the terms ‘biodiversity’ and ‘habitat’. Place these definitions on the word wall for future reference.


  1. Ask students to make suggestions about what they think makes a thing living or non-living. Record and group similar responses.
  2. Show students the video Living or non-living things.  Record the seven characteristics that identify living things.
  3. Inform students that they are now going to examine two different areas in the school grounds in order to identify the living and non-living things within those areas.
    Teacher note: Where possible, choose a barren, worn or disturbed area and a green or garden area with plants and other vegetation.
  4. Move students to the two identified areas in the schoolyard to conduct the activity. Distribute the worksheet Living thing audit (Word, 377 KB) and have students identify living and non-living things in each area.
  5. Photograph samples of living and non-living things to give to Atto for his report.
  6. Compare the living things in each area and discuss the similarities and differences between the areas. Ask students to make suggestions about why there are differences between the numbers or types of living things found in each area. Have students work together to group the living things into categories.
  7. Have students discuss different habitats that they are familiar with and to suggest what living and non-living things are found in those areas, eg their backyard, the beach, the bush.
  8. Carry out the learning object Garden detective: explore an Australian garden  to assist in illustrating the diversity of living things that can be found in a habitat.


Plan and set up a classroom animal environment and plant some seeds.

Teacher note: These two activities will involve forward planning and preparation. They may also add additional time to this lesson. It is up to the teacher’s discretion on how and when these activities are conducted.

Keeping animals

Introduce students to the ethical considerations of keeping animals. Discuss the types of animals that can be kept in a classroom, eg goldfish, butterflies, ants, billabong bugs or brine shrimp (sea monkeys), mealworms and silkworms. Conduct a poll or vote on the preferred animal to keep in the classroom.

Set up the animal habitat with the students. Organise a roster to care for the animal/s and maintain its habitat. Take photographs to compile for a digital record for Atto.

Growing plants

Set up growing stations of fast-growing plants, eg beans, cress, mustard. Investigate factors that affect growth such as sunlight or temperature. Take photographs of plant growth to compile a digital record for Atto.

Teacher notes

Use the Investigation planner worksheet (Word, 389 KB) to assist in planning and conducting investigations.

Use the Observation sheet (Word, 379 KB) to assist in planning and conducting investigations.

In preparation for the next lesson, ask students to bring in a baby photograph and a recent photograph of themselves.

Lesson Resources


Student activities

Digital resources

Living or non-living things,
YouTube (6:40 min)

L1118 Garden detective: explore an Australian garden, NDLRN


Living thing audit (Word, 377 KB)

Investigation planner sheet 
(Word, 389 KB)

Observation sheet (Word, 379 KB)

Useful links

Animal or plant? 
Discovery Centre, Museum Victoria. Information sheet

L540 Fair test,
NDLRN. Learning object

Living vs non-living things,
YouTube (1.57 min)

Ninja words,
Fast, online dictionary

Plants, Junior SPECTRA award card,
Australian Science Teachers Association

R11917 Predict-Observe-Explain,
NDLRN. Teacher information video

R11949 Science inquiry skills: planning and conducting,
NDLRN. Teacher digital curriculum resources