10 Ready-to-Go Resources for Teaching Life Cycles
- 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.
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.
Click on the image above to download and print a copy.
3. Month by Month Resources
Scholastic's new site, Month by Month is filled with life cycle teaching ideas for April. Be sure to bookmark this site and check back every month for timely resources you will want all year long. Here are a few things that Month by Month has to offer to help you with your study of life cycles:
Life Cycle Word Walls
This word wall is ready to print and post in your classroom. Click on the image below to download the life cycle related words.
Life Cycle Crafts
Click on the image below for a step-by-step guide to helping your students create a Life Cycle of a Butterfly Mobile.
Teach About Life Cycles
Click on the image below to see lesson starters and links for life cycle topics.
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.
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.
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.
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:
"Bringing Your Classroom to Life With Life Cycles and Food Chains" by Jennifer Solis and Jennifer Boatwright
"Real-Life Learning: A Primary Study of Life Cycles" by Julie Ballew
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.
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!
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