Junior Rangers Learning Unit: Living vs. Nonliving Things

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Summer camp is not just a time for arts & crafts and games, it’s also a great time to learn about nature and our environment. Here’s a unit on learning the differences between living things and nonliving things. You can do just some of these crafts, games, and activities, or spread them all out over the month. If you like this craft, check out our Nutrition Unit which has great books, crafts, and discussion topics in a unit format like this one.

Activity #1: Living Things
*Discuss: Start with something simple that’s living, or alive, such as a plant. What makes them living things? They grow and change – what do they need to do this? (Food, water, air) They can reproduce, or make new plants. Based on these criteria, name other things that are living or alive.
*Activity: Draw 6 things that are alive.
*Read: What’s Alive? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Activity #2: Nonliving Things
*Discuss: Start with something simple that’s nonliving, such as a chair. Why is it not alive? (Doesn’t need food, water, or air. Doesn’t grow or change. Doesn’t reproduce.) Based on these criteria, name other things that are nonliving.
*Activity: Draw 6 things that are nonliving.
*Read: Are You Living? by Laura Purdie Salas

Activity #3: Living vs. Nonliving
*Discuss: Where could you find living things? (Mostly in nature: woods, meadows, ponds, etc.) Where could you find nonliving things? (In nature, but also indoors, in cities.)
*Activity: Go outside and look for things that are living and nonliving. Create a scavenger hunt. For young children, use pictures of various living and nonliving items you could find around your home or yard. For older children, you can make a list. Have them circle the living things they find and put an “X” on the nonliving things they find. Take a piece of poster board and draw a line to split it in half. Write “Living” on one side and Nonliving on the other. Using photos or pictures from magazines, sort objects into Living and Nonliving categories.
*Read: Living and Nonliving by Carol K Lindeen

Activity #4
*Discuss: Talk about the differences between living and nonliving things again. If you have a pet at home, compare that pet to a stuffed animal. Talk about what makes a real live pet dog different from a stuffed animal dog. How do you take care of each one – feeding it, cleaning it, loving it, etc. ? How do you know your pet dog is alive? (Breathing, blinking, snoring, barking, etc.)
*Activity: What if your favorite stuffed animal went from Nonliving to Living? Write a story or draw a picture that shows what would happen. Does the type of stuffed animal change the story? If you had a stuffed dog that came to life, how would that be different from a stuffed dragon that came to life? Draw a picture or tell a story about what would happen.
*Read: The Little Rabbit who Wanted Red Wings by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

This activity can be found in the Games & Activities section of our site.