Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students learn about the needs of an animal and relate these to a pretend pet.


Direct students to sit in front of you. Display the four pictures of: a baby, a dog, a ball and a pot plant (Word 448 KB) on the interactive whiteboard or display a hard copy. Ask which of these pictures does not belong with the others in the group and why? Guide students to identify that the ball is not alive or living but the other three pictures show living things. Explain to students that in science lessons over the next few weeks they will be talking and thinking about living things and what they need to survive. Tell students that to start the unit, you have asked a special visitor to talk to them about the needs of their pet. Introduce the guest presenter.


  1. As the visitor talks, focus student attention and questions on statements about what the animal needs to live (ie food, water, shelter). Ask the visitor to explain if their pet uses its senses of smell, taste, hearing, sight and touch to help meet its needs. Scribe key ideas on the left-hand page in the class science journal as a mind map. (If air is identified, take note of the student who identified it and add ‘air’ to the map.) Thank the guest presenter.
    Teacher note: There is information on class science journaling in Background information (PDF 385 KB). 
  2. Briefly recall the main things the animal needed, drawing a circle around the key words recorded in the class science journal as you do so.
  3. Explain to the students that they are now going to make their own pretend pet out of playdough/plasticine. Move students to desks and hand out playdough or plasticine. Instruct them to use one stick of plasticine (or equivalent in playdough) to make a small model of an animal they know about.
  4. When they have made their animal ask the students the following questions:
    • What does your pet need every day to survive?
    • Who would give them these things?
    • What would happen to a pet if the owners didn’t look after it?
  5. Instruct students to make very small things out of the remaining playdough/plasticine to represent these needs.
  6. Pair students up and ask them to tell their partner about the animal and items they have made.
  7. Pack up playdough/plasticine (or set aside for photographing/scribing if preferred).


Regroup in front of the class science journal and mind map. On the right-hand page write the heading, Needs of living things. Ask students to name one need of their pet. Ask the students the following questions:

  • Do all pets need food (water/shelter)?
  • Do you think wild and farm animals need food (water/shelter)?
  • Do we need food (water/ shelter)?
  • Do you agree food (water/shelter) is something all living things need?

Record responses in a list. Repeat for all needs, including ‘air’ if a student suggested it earlier. (This is taught in lesson 2, if not). Ask what would happen if any of these needs weren’t met.


Lesson Resources


Student activities

Useful links

Creature features, ABC. Videos about pets and their needs

R11465 Water for life, NDLRN. Unit of work