May 2, 2012

Life Cycle Unit Ideas

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I put together this information as a way to get your mind turning and thinking about this subject. It is by not means a complete unit, but hopefully may inspire you and give you some ideas. The life cycle is a BIG subject but serves as a foundation and springboard for many other topics. 

About this Unit:
  • Explores the life cycles of various plants, animals, and even humans. 
  • Great for Pre-k through 2nd grade
  • Explores beginnings, endings, changes, stages, accommodations, and more
  • Can be easily integrated into your current curriculum and expanded upon to include other subject areas. 

Getting Started

The best way to start any unit is to get your pupils excited about the subject. Here are some things you can do to get everyone on board.  

  • Decorate the walls with any posters or other materials you may have explaining the life cycle 
  • Bring out a few stuffed animals or figurines that you may be able to use to demonstrate the lessons 
  • Introduce the unit by explaining what the life cycle is and what kinds of things actually have a life cycle. Talk about living and non-living using some examples 
  • Search the library for books and magazines that correspond to your subject. Set them in a visible place. My kids always get excited about new books! 
  • Find possible field trip locations such as veterinarian's office, botanical gardens, butterfly house, the zoo, or a nature preserve. Take nature walks near your home and gather things such as bugs, sticks, leaves, and discuss their life cycle. 

Literature Connection

The best, cheapest way to plan for any unit is to peruse the shelves of your local library and your home library. See what you can find. Our local library has a county wide system where any library in the county can loan you books. They even have a website where I can search for books by author, topic, or book title. Here are some of 
my favs (affiliate):
And of course....The Giving Tree by Shel Silversteins

This book teaches some great lesson in giving! Homeschool Share some great printables to go with this book! Check out this site for some more activities.


Science Clips

Butterfly Site
Life Cycle of a Plant Game
Frog Life Cycle Craft
Life Cycle worksheets
Ladybug Page


Make the Connection:

You can easily make the connection between the subjects and turn this into a cross-curricular, thematic unit. Here are some ideas. 
  • Science- that's the easy one! This is a Life Science unit! Add in a few experiments, and maybe even go visit a farm to see some baby animals.
  • Reading- lots of literature possibilities; try checking your child on speed, comprehension, and fluency using short passages from your library books.
  • History- incorporate some famous scientists into your unit; make a timeline of milestones in    life science
  • Math- for older students, have them make up their own story problems incorporating particular math concepts, based on the life cycle theme. Create your own homemade games using the theme to reinforce objectives such as counting, number recognition, skip counting, addition, and other concepts. You can easily make these games at home if you have some basic supplies: colored paper, computer & printer (or just use a pen) and a laminator really makes the game pieces sturdy. (see pics below)
    • Lily pad/frogs games 
    • Butterflies/spots
    • Ladybugs/leaf
    • Trees/leaves
  • Art- make drawings of living & non-living things; study artists who specialize in animals and landscapes; use variety of household items to create bugs and worms (dip sponge, eraser, etc. in paint to create). 
  • Music- listen to the sounds of wildlife and nature; or play the Who Am I game.

For Math games: Check your local Dollar Tree. You can get a whole bag of these critters for $1! 

Backyard Travels Assorted Plastic Creatures
Plastic Jungle Play Animals, 4.125 in.
You could always use some colorful pom poms. Kids have a BIG imagination!

Educational Resources

Don't forget to check out your state's conservation department. They usually have an educational resource pack available for teachers and youth leaders. I used to get them when I taught public school, and they would always send lots of posters illustrating our local plant and wildlife. Check out their website for more information. Also, many zoo websites have resources for educators.  The Memphis Zoo even has special activities for homeschoolers throughout the year. Sometimes we overlook resources close to home. 

CurrClick Units-some great ones here!


If you need a schedule to help plan out your unit study, make it simple and don't be disappointed if things don't go as planned. You may decide to study reptiles for a whole week instead of two days. I have found that interest led learning on the student's part is quite successful in our homeschool. You could even let your child pick the individual topics of study. It is hard for a psycho-plan-everything-out kind of person like myself, but great for the kids! 

But here's a sample of how things could go if you want a plan...I did a couple of days for example. It doesn't have to be complicated!

Day 1
Living/Non-living things

1.      Introduce life cycle; talk about living/non-living things; convey that living things have a life cycle
2.      Use stuffed animals and things around the house for a quiz on living & non-living things.
3.     Living/non-living worksheet; Science Kid's Online game
4.   Make a mini book with living/non-living things 

  1. Life cycle of plants PowerPoint
  2. Brainpop (free) life cycle video
  3. Parts of a plant activity
  4. Plant a seed and watch the life cycle begin. 
  5. Do a plant craft (Here's a page full of 'em)



Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

So anyway, 
Hope you found something that inspired you! 

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