UCMP Lessons  


Author: Sharon Janulaw

Overview: In this lesson students are shown illustrations of living things and extinct life forms, which they compare and categorize as living or extinct.

Lesson Concepts:

Grade Span: K–2


Advance Preparation:

— Copy and cut out illustrations of extinct and living life forms from the Living and extinct forms sheet or use other sources of fossil and living things.
— Gather a number of books of extinct life forms.

Time: 20 minutes

Grouping: Whole class

Teacher Background:

In the course of Earth’s history, most life forms have gone extinct or evolved into new forms. Some living things closely resemble ancient forms, while others are very different from anything that came before. Use the UCMP website to familiarize yourself with the history of living things so you can respond to students’ questions and enrich lessons with stories of your own.

Teacher Resources: A vast amount of information, as well as links to the world of paleontology, are provided at the University of California Museum of Paleontology’s site.

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

Vocabulary: living, extinct


  1. Review the variety of living things the class has observed in previous lessons by having students name as many of the living things as they can recall. Tell them you will show pictures of life forms and they should think about if they have seen the living thing or if they have not seen it. Talk about why they might not have seen it. (Lives somewhere else such as the ocean or far away; is no longer living on Earth.)
  2. Show the class the illustrations of living and extinct life forms. Discuss which they have seen and which they have not seen.
  3. Have them sort the illustrations during discussion. Ask a student to select a picture and tell if it is alive today or extinct and put it in the corresponding group. Have the rest of the class put thumbs up if they agree or thumbs down if they disagree. Have them justify their answers for some of the illustrations. “How do you know that?”
  4. Share books for students to look through to become aware of all the life forms that are extinct.

Updated October 31, 2003

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