Living and nonliving things biology lesson for kids: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grades biology lesson.
Living and non-living things are all around us. It’s sometimes easy to figure out what’s living and what’s not. Other times, it’s not so easy. Living things have a few characteristics, and if something doesn’t have these things, then it’s non-living. Non-living things are divided into two categories: things that were never living, and things that used to be living (or part of something living), but now are not.
The first characteristic of living things is feeding. All living things take in nutrients in one way or another so they can grow and survive. Some of them, like dogs and cats, literally eat, gathering food into their mouths. Others, like plants, absorb nutrients from the world around them.
Another characteristic is movement. For lots of living things, it’s easy to see their movement because they move around on legs or with fins or wings. Others stay still for most of their lives, like sponges and plants. All living things, though, are capable of internal movement, which means they can move substances around their bodies.
This next one, breathing or respiration, is kind of complicated. Most living things exchange gases with their environment: they take oxygen in, use it to extract energy from sugars, and then release carbon dioxide. Some living, though, don’t need oxygen to extract energy, but still release carbon dioxide.
Living things also grow, using the energy and nutrients they take in. When they grow, they may not only get bigger, but some even change a whole lot.
In the process of eating and growing, moving, and releasing energy, living things also produce chemicals that are toxic to them. These waste products have to be excreted before they end up causing problems for the living things.
Another important thing for living things is that they are sensitive to and respond to the world around them. They can sense food, danger, and changes in the environment, and respond in some way. Some living things move towards food or away from dangerous things. Even plants move their leaves around (albeit very slowly) so that they can get as much light as possible!
Finally, living things reproduce. That is, they make babies to continue their species; puppies, kittens, seedlings, larvae, and calves are all proof of reproduction.
Non-living things are things that don’t have these characteristics. A non-living thing might have some of these characteristics, but will not have all of them. For example, some crystals grow by accumulating more of whatever substances they are made from. These crystals do not breathe, though, so they are non-living.
Some non-living things used to be part of living things. Paper and wool used to be part of living things (trees and sheep, respectively), but they are not, anymore. Metals are different, though; they were never part of living things, and so were always non-living.
By checking whether or not something has these characteristics, we can tell if it is living or non-living.