UCMP Lessons  


Author: Sharon Janulaw

Overview: In this lesson students will observe and compare a variety of living things and pictures of living things to note their similarities and differences.

Lesson Concepts:

Grade Span: K–2


Advance Preparation:

— Acquire a wide variety of living things.
— Arrange the living things around the classroom.
— Find pictures of living things.

Time: Two class periods

Grouping: Whole class and small groups

Teacher Background:

In order to live on planet Earth, all living things must surmount the same set of challenges—food acquisition, gas exchange, protection, locomotion, waste disposal, etc. The remarkable thing about living organisms is the wide variety of strategies used to solve the same problems. Plants solve the food problem by making it. Animals solve the same problem by eating plants or other animals. Hamsters get from place to place on four feet, while snails slide around on a single “foot.” There is no end to the discoveries that can be made when we start comparing living things to each other.

It is important to keep in mind that when we have children compare and sort living things they are not classifying. Scientific classification of living things is based on common ancestry, which children do not have the experience or background knowledge to accomplish.

Teacher Resources: A flower shop, bait shop, market produce section. Often pet stores will loan animals to their local schools.

Explore these links for additional information on the topics covered in this lesson:

Vocabulary: plant, animal


  1. Have the students look around at all the living things in the room. Ask them what sorts of living things they see.
  2. Have the class compare the animals to each other. How are they alike and how are they different? What parts do animals have? How do they use their parts? Make a list of animals and their parts (This will aid in comparison.).
  3. Have students compare the plants to other plants. This might include looking at the plants (trees, shrubs, lawn, weeds) outside the classroom. What parts do plants have? Again, make a list of plants and their parts.
  4. Compare the plants to the animals. What parts do plants have? What plants do animals have? How are they the same? How are they different?
  5. Have students find ways to sort the plants and animals and the pictures of plants and animals. Allow them to determine criteria they use to discriminate between them. Have groups share how they sorted the living things and what is the same about the living things within each sorted group.
  6. Provide a variety of books with photos of living things and ask students to compare what they discover in the books to what they have seen in person.

Updated May 24, 2004

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