One of the biggest concepts I teach my students in science throughout the year is life cycles. We learn all different kinds of life cycles and each cycle I follow a similar routine! Do you do life cycles activities in your classroom? Check out these tips to give it a try!
Start with prior knowledge and asking questions
I always start my life cycles activities by asking students what their prior understandings are of the life cycle we are studying. I also want students to start our unit by asking questions. What are they wondering? This can help engage them with their curiosities and can help me to plan life cycles activities based on their wonderings. I also like to show them at the end of the unit how we answered their questions and how much they have learned.
Life cycles activities: observations
It really helps students to be able to observe the life cycle you are studying. Obviously, some life cycles are longer than others. But maybe you can have students observe parts of the life cycle! I choose to teach my students life cycles that students can observe. Ladybugs and frogs are easy life cycles to see the changes occurring and the changes happen pretty quickly. Plants are also a good life cycle to show because students can observe many different types of plants and see how they all grow through the same stages.
Explicitly show the life cycle
Even though I want my students to observe as much of the life cycle as possible, I still want to explicitly show the different stages in my life cycles activities. I use pictures and cards to show my students how the cycle continues. We also read non-fiction books that show and teach about the different stages. Finally, my students fill out different emergent readers and journal pages to show their learning of the different life cycle stages.
Connect to other life cycles
One of the best reasons to have multiple life cycles activities in the year is to give students the opportunity to compare life cycles. I want students to see how living things progress through the same types of stages. Living things start as an embryo, grow into a young being, then an adult, and then they make new embryos. I make sure my students compare all the life cycles we learn about to see the connections between the life cycles we learn about and how living things grow and change over time.
Life cycle activities are important science topics for young children. It helps that students can observe many stages of the life cycle of different living things. When we give our students multiple opportunities to see different life cycles, they can learn to compare the life cycles and see how all living things grow and change over time.