Component 4: Life Science

Standard 4.a: Children begin to learn about the characteristics, needs, and life cycles of living things and how they get their needs met within a particular environment.

By the following age ranges, children typically, for example:

  • Notice and investigate their own body parts (e.g., play with their fingers or toes)
  • Express their own needs and seek to get them met by crying, lifting their arms, and/or other attention seeking behaviors
  • Explore the characteristics of living things (e.g., petting a cat or dog and feeling its soft fur)
  • Begin to identify animals based on salient characteristics (e.g., call all animals with fur and four legs a “doggy”)
  • Begin to understand that they have different body parts that can be named (e.g., point to eyes, nose, and mouth when asked to do so)
  • Observe and respond to animals outdoors (e.g., when outside, follow a butterfly or insect to see where it goes)
  • Begin to distinguish different types of animals based on more specific characteristics and behaviors (e.g., pigs are pink, cows are big and say moo, dogs bark)
  • Begin to demonstrate an awareness of the needs of living things (e.g., imitating caretaking behaviors with a doll or stuffed animal)
  • Begin to distinguish between things that are alive and not alive (e.g., interact differently with a real dog and a toy dog)
  • Make increasingly detailed observations of the characteristics and behaviors of living things (e.g., representations of people begin to include eyes, mouths, and stick arms and legs)
  • Begin to understand that baby animals often resemble their parents (e.g., match photos of adult animals with their babies)
  • Begin to recognize diversity and variation in living things (e.g., notice that children in the classroom have different colors of skin, hair, and eyes)
  • Begin to associate specific animals with the environments in which they get their needs met (e.g., match pictures of familiar animals with their homes)
  • Begin to express an awareness that living things grow and develop (e.g., express an interest and pride in how they are physically growing and developing new skills)
  • Group animals based on their characteristics and/or where they can be found (e.g., sort animals into categories such as animals with fur or animals that live in the water)
  • Identify ways in which specific living things grow and develop over time and what they need to live (e.g., describe a plant’s growth and that it needs water and sun)
  • Demonstrate an increasing understanding of diversity and variation (e.g., describe or represent similarities and differences among animals’ characteristics, needs, and homes with increasing detail)
  • Demonstrate an increasing understanding of the difference between living and nonliving things (e.g., describe that living things eat, breathe, move, and play or that they need beds and families)
  • Describe the characteristics that define living things
  • Compare, contrast, and/ or categorize different types of plants and animals
  • Begin to distinguish between wants and needs of living things
  • Generate ideas about needs that living things and/or all animals share and how their specific needs may be different (e.g., all animals need food, but they eat different foods)
  • Ask and answer questions about changes in the appearance, behavior, and habitats of living things
  • Wonder and think about how animals adapt to different weather conditions and where they go when not found in the environment
  • Make inferences about why specific plants or animals live where they do and how they get their needs met in that place
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