Leading Question: What is the life cycle
of an individual, and how are individuals related to their families and their
This unit introduces the life cycle of an individual organism, and then
expands to place this individual life within the contexts of the family
that passes along inherited traits, and the community or environment where
additional traits are learned. Using farm animals as the window to understanding
abstract concepts, students participate in the hatching out of baby chicks,
do egg experiments ("eggs-periments"), and visit the farm that
will become their chicks' new home.
Through the farm visit and subsequent activities, students practice differentiating
birds from mammals, become familiar with many different species of farm
animals and expand their understanding of the life cycle. Students see how
individuals are born into families and families belong to communities (a
flock or herd). They learn the names of parents, offspring and groups of
different species, and the differences among these species when it comes
to the specifics of their life cycle (such as how they raise their young,
how long before offspring are independent, how they eat or gather food,
how they reproduce - egg versus live birth - and how long they are expected
to live. ) While at the farm, students utilize the farmer as a resource and
gather information about different species life cycles and unique traits.
They review their findings once back in the classroom and play a traits
game to secure their understanding of traits as either inherited or learned/environmental.
The unit closes with small groups doing species specific life-cycle performance:
"chart, art and act".
The use of the term "cycle" can be confusing since the animal
dies and does not begin the cycle again. Their body decomposes and feeds
the soil which nourishes new life for plants, which then in turn eaten by
animals but the next step after the death of a cow, for example, is not
rebirth as a new baby cow. . The life cycle also refers to the family line
continuing on, which occurs when offspring are born. Offspring start the
cycle again; it could be called the life spiral.
UNDERSTAND LIFE CYCLES OF ORGANISMS
• Animals have life cycles that include being born, developing
into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life
cycle are different for different organisms.
OBSERVE ELEMENTS OF REPRODUCTION AND HEREDITY
• Animals closely resemble their parents.
• Many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents
of the organism, but other characteristics result from an individual's interactions
with the environment.
• Reproduction is a characteristic of all living systems.
• The characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of
a combination of traits.
• Every organism requires a set of instructions for specifying its
• Heredity is the passage of these instructions from one generation
• In many species females produce eggs. (The role of sperm in reproduction
is generally introduced in upper elementary grades. )
DISCUSS AND OBSERVE REGULATION AND BEHAVIOR
• Animals move, grow and change over time.
• All organisms must be able to obtain and use resources, grow,
reproduce and maintain stable internal conditions while living in a constantly
changing external environment.
• Explore the benefits of diversity.
• Students recognize similarities and differences in individuals,
families, and groups.
• Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
• Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions and models using evidence.
• Describing observed events.
• Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence
• Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.