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April 23, 2014 10 Ready-to-Go Resources for Teaching Life Cycles By Genia Connell
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    Life cycles are one of the great science concepts taught somewhere in every school's science curriculum. In my school, we look at the life cycles of plants and crayfish in my third grade class, while other grades study the life cycles of chickens, butterflies, and fish. I have been teaching about the plants and crayfish for over a decade now, and I am always looking for new and creative ways to engage my students without having to reinvent the wheel. This week I'm sharing with you some of my favorite resources to teach life cycles. The best part about these resources is that they are easy-to-use and they help teach essential knowledge — no reinventing needed!


    1. Life Cycle Booklets

    These informative life cycle booklets from Scholastic's Printables are a great way to introduce a unit on plants. The information inside this seven-page booklet includes a diagram of the parts of a seed, germination, and pollinations facts, along with the sequential stages of the life cycle of a flowering plant.

    life cycle of a flowering plant printable booklet

    life cycle booklet

    2. Life Cycle Diagrams

    One of the most versatile teacher resource books I own is The Big Book of Reproducible Graphic Organizers. Each year I use the Focus on a Cycle organizer from this book for my students to write and illustrate the four stages of a crayfish's life. This resource could easily be used with any plant or animal life cycle you may be studying or even as a way to map out a four-step experiment. 

    Life cycle grphic organizer

    Click on the image above to download and print a copy.

    crayfish life cycle bulletin board

    life cycle of a crayfishcrayfish life cycle

    crayfish life cycle diagram



    3. Word Workshop Tool


    Scholastic's new Word Workshop tool allows you to create beautiful, customized cards, labels, or stationary using ten different fonts, and forty-four different borders that you can print in five different sizes. You can save all your lists to your computer to pull up again the next time you want them!

    Choose from the preset list of words about plants, add a spring-themed border and colorful font and your April word wall is good to go!



    4. Baggy Gardens

    These easy-to-make baggy gardens allow students to see firsthand how seeds shed their coats, then begin to sprout and develop roots. Within four short weeks, many of the plants are flowering and some eventually develop bean pods. Find all the step-by-step directions on the April Month by Month site. 


    5. Butterfly Life Cycle Plate 

    Your students can depict the stages of a butterfly's life with this simple craft you see pictured below. Read this article for step-by-step directions. 

    Life cycle craftbutterfly plate craft



    6. Study Jams! Resources

    This interactive Study Jams slide show shows how an animal's life goes through the cycle of reproduction, growth, maturity, and finally, death. These Study Jams are set to music with information written under each photo. A short, self-checking quiz is also included.

    This Study Jam shows how plants produce seeds in order to reproduce. It covers plant life cycle vocabulary and includes a short quiz following the slide show. 



    7. Scholastic Printables

     Every time I log into my Printables account, I am instantly able to find excellent, supplementary resources to help my students practice the essential skills I am teaching. Below are a few examples of the great sheets that you can use to teach life cycles. Click on each image below to either print a copy of your own or to use on your interactive white board. 

    Butterfly Life CycleInteractive Life Cycle WheelInteractive Science Wheel

              Butterfly Life Cycle                 Butterfly and Grasshopper Life Cycles: Interactive Science Wheel

             Essential Questions                                Thematic Song                                      Life Cycle Poem



    8. Blog Posts

    I love getting a glimpse into what other teachers are doing and Scholastic's blog posts are a great way to do exactly that. Sometimes I follow the directions of what the blogger has done exactly, but more often I use the post's ideas as in inspiration for activities that work best with my students and curriculum. Here are a couple great blog posts that just may provide the idea or inspiration you've been looking for:



    9. Videos

    I love using the National Geographic Kids series of videos on animal life cycles. Each video is short (most are one to three minutes long) and there are many that fit perfectly with our study of life cycles. 


    Click the image above to visit the National Geographic Kids website and view the butterfly video.


    10. Knowledge Quest Life Cycle Books

    I own several different books that I have used for years to teach life cycles. They didn't come as part of my curriculum materials; I purchased most of them through the Scholastic Reading Club. I recently discovered a new series of read-aloud books called Knowledge Quest that work together to build a scaffolded foundation of knowledge that my other randomly selected titles did not. The best part of all? I was able to use bonus points to buy the whole set! 


    I'm hoping my list of resources will help make your teaching of life cycles easier than ever. I'd love to hear what resources you're using to teach about life cycles in your classroom. Please share in the comment section below!

    If you would like more tips and ideas, subscribe to this blog and follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.


    Other Resources You May be Interested in:



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