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Living Things Lesson Plan

Author: Jana Shumway

Year: 2015

Artform: Dance

Subjects: Science

Grade: Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd

Duration: 45 minutes

Overview: Kindergarten through third grade students will dance the 8 characteristics of living things. NOTE: This lesson plan was written specifically for 3rd grade but you can vary it for grades K-2 since they also learn about living things.

Standards and Objectives

The student will identify and demonstrate movement elements (time, space, energy and motion) in performing dance.

The student will improvise, create, perform, and respond to movement solutions in the art form of dance.
a. Identify characteristics of living things (i.e., growth, movement, reproduction).

Identify basic needs of living things (plants and animals) & their abilities to meet their needs.

Living things change and depend upon their environment to satisfy their basic needs.

Investigate living things.
Kindergarten through third grade students will understand that living things have cells; they need to eat; they move; they breathe; they excrete waste; they grow; they’re sensitive to their surroundings; and they reproduce. They will learn this through dance improvisation and choreographic experiences.



Just start dancing the 8 characteristics of Living Things.


1. Cells: All living things have cells.

SHAPE: Have the class make one large cell together. Have the girls hold hands creating a circle (or the plasma cell membrane). Have 3 boys create a circle in the middle to represent the nucleus. Have the rest of the boys create random shapes scattered here and there within the large circle to create golgi, mitochondria, lysosome, ribosome and endoplasmic reticulum.

2. Feeding: All living organisms need to take substances from their environment to obtain energy, to grow and to stay healthy.

DANCE: Without touching anyone, have students try to “eat” something by running to it, swirling around that object, then cover it up with a shape that goes over it.

3. Movement: All living organisms show movement of one kind or another. They all have internal movement, which means that they have the ability of moving substances from one part of their body to another. Some living organisms show external movement as well. They can move from place to place by walking, flying or swimming.

DANCE: Shape - move to a new location - shape. Repeat several times. (This represents moving substances from one part of the body to another). Then dance external movement by doing locomotor steps, flying (soaring, floating on different levels in interesting pathways) and swimming (low level sustained movement).

4. Breathing or Respiration: All living things exchange gases with their environment. Animals take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

DANCE: Do big breathy movements from core to distal ends. Start very small and stretch out very big with the breath initiating the movement.

5. Excretion: Excretion is the removal of waste from the body. If this waste was allowed to remain in the body it could be poisonous. Humans produce a liquid waste called urine. We also excrete waste when we breathe out, sneeze, sweat, blow our nose, etc. All living things need to remove waste from their bodies.

DANCE: No dance - just a discussion.

6. Growth: When living things feed, they gain energy. Some of this energy is used in growth. Living things become larger and more complicated as they grow.

DANCE: Start small and grow to a huge shape. Go small again and grow to a small shape. Go small and grow to a crooked shape. Go small again and grow to a long shape. Go small and grow to a spiraled shape. Keep trying new shapes. The counts are . . . grow 1,2,3,4, hold 1,2,3 then go small again quickly on count 4. Repeat.

7. Sensitivity or Adaptation: Living things react to changes around them. We react to touch, light, heat, cold and sound, as do other living things.

DANCE: TOUCH: With a partner, have one touch while the other one responds with movement. For example if partner 1 touches their partner’s shoulder, partner 2 would move their shoulder. SOUND: With a partner, have one whisper into the other’s ear. For example if partner 1 whispers into their partner’s ear “run in a circle 3 times”, partner 2 would follow that command. Their commands can also include HEAT and COLD: such as “melt because the sun is so hot” or “shiver as if you’re in Antarctica”, etc. (We respond to touch - light - heat - cold - sound).

8. Reproduction: All living things produce young. Humans make babies, cats produce kittens and pigeons lay eggs. Plants also reproduce. Many make seeds which can germinate and grow into new plants.

DANCE: Egg - Baby - plants = round shape for eggs; small, low movements for babies; growing from low to high for seeds germinating and growing into a plant.


Create an entire dance by repeating the characteristics above. Have the students help you create an interesting dance by adding formations, entrances and exits, partner work, solos, etc. The kids have great ideas so use them and have fun creating!


Review the 8 characteristics of living things. Have the kids name examples they see in the world. Compare living things to non-living things. Discuss how living things survive in their particular environments.

Scientists believe that there are over 10 million different kinds of lifeforms, or species, on Earth. Imagine trying to study and understand the lives, patterns, behaviors and evolution of so many different kinds of organisms. In order to make their job easier, scientists classify living things into groups based on how they are the same and how they are different.
Adjust the dance as needed for individual student needs.
Living Things may refer to: Life, all objects that have self-sustaining processes (biology) Organisms, contiguous living systems (such as animals, plants, fungi, or micro-organisms).

Non-living things are things that lack or has stopped displaying the characteristics of life. Thus, they lack or no longer displaying the capability for growth, reproduction, respiration, metabolism, and movement. They also are not capable of responding to stimuli or evolve and adapt to their environment. They also do not require energy to continue existing. Examples of non-living things are rock, water, and sun.

While the kids are dancing watch to see if they are understanding the concepts. If not, sidecoach them to help them understand.

You can have a discussion or quiz at the end of the lesson; or have the students share what they learned with a partner and then report to another group of students or to you as to what they learned.
They can also demonstrate their understanding through choreographic assignments (but be sure the objectives are clear for the assignment and then make sure they meet those objectives).


  • Visuals of the 8 Characteristics of Living Things


  • Harvesting by Tristan Moore