Teaching Living and Non-Living Things in Kindergarten

Teaching about living and non-living things is a crucial foundation to all life sciences, life cycles, biology and ecology. Thinking about living things may be easy, but non-living things are more abstract. Students should be able to group living things together to see the important characteristics they share. All of these activities come from my living and non-living product.

Science Should Always Start With Observation and Exploring

Teaching Living and Non Living Things

Your classroom should have a space for students to routinely observe and explore different objects. I like to have these observation sheets in my science area with magnifying lenses and I routinely switch out the objects to keep up interest. When starting a unit on living and non-living objects, I make sure to have some living and some non-living objects to observe. Our unit always comes after several units on life cycles already, so my students have had plenty of exploration with living objects.

Teaching Living and Non Living Things

Sort and Group Objects

Teaching Living and Non Living Things

Children’s learning is much more powerful when they build it themselves. Letting them sort objects into different groups and categories is a great way to start this learning. They will often sort them into the characteristics of living things without even realizing it. After they sort the objects independently, you can encourage them to sort them into living and non-living as they know them. You can use this as a great opportunity to talk about the difference between alive and living. For example, the log is still a living thing because it was alive and has died. A non-living thing has never been alive. Non-living things do not move independently or grow or need water, food, air, shelter.

Find Similarities

Teaching Living and Non Living Things

Once you sort objects, discuss what the living things have in common. What do they need to live? Try and come up with the list of things that all living things need – food, shelter, water, and air.

Explicit teaching

Teaching Living and Non Living Things Free

There are some great read alouds to support explicit teaching of living and non-living things. I especially love Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? and What’s Alive? I also love singing this song to my students.

Then we complete the emergent reader together to wrap up our unit.

Teaching Living and Non Living Things


Teaching living and non-living things in kindergarten can still be hands-on, explorational, and educational! Students can learn a lot by grouping living things together and observing their needs and similarities. If you try any of these activities, share them and tag me! All of these activities come from my living and non-living product.

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