Living Things

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Living Things

We are surrounded by living and non-living things. All animals and plants are living things and biology is the study of these living things. A cat playing with a ball is obviously living. A pigeon flying from tree to tree is also a living thing.

Sometimes it is not so easy to decide. Plants are living things but they do not play with balls or fly. If something is living it will carry out all of the seven activities shown below.

Some non-living things show one or two of the seven characteristics of living things. Machines, such as washing machines, can move. The car needs to be fed with petrol in order to move.

Crystals, such as ice crystals forming on a window, grow bigger if the conditions are right. For something to be living it has to show all of the seven characteristics of living things.

 Scientists use scientific classification to sort the world, but there are many other ways of sorting. One way we can sort things is by classifying them as living or nonliving. Living things use energy. They move or change shape. They take in food and get rid of waste, and they have babies, or reproduce. Humans, insects, trees, and grass are living things.

Nonliving things do not move by themselves, grow, or reproduce. They exist in nature or are made by living things. There are three groups of nonliving things. They are solids, liquids, and gases. Water is an example of a liquid. A rock is a solid. Oxygen is an example of a gas. Cars, pencils, and air are examples of nonliving things.
Non-living things

Sand, wood and glass are all non-living things. None of them shows any of the characteristics listed above. Non-living things can be divided into two groups. First, come those which were never part of a living thing, such as stone and gold.

The second group are those which were once part of living things. Coal is a good example. It was formed when trees died and sank into the soft ground. This happened many millions of years ago when the Earth was covered with forests. Paper is non-living but it is also made from trees. Jam is also non-living but it was made from the fruit of a plant.


The Seven Characteristics of Living Things


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


All living organisms show movement of one kind or another. All living organisms 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.

Breathing or Respiration

All living things exchange gases with their environment. Animals take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.  


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. All living things need to remove waste from their bodies.


Growth: Baby elephant, Rift Valley, Kenya

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.


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


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.

Living and Non-Living Things

The world is made up of many different things. Some of the things are living and others are non-living. A dog, swing set, car, tree, flowers, and a book are some of the things that make up the world.

There are two different kinds of things in the world. One kind is called living things. Living things eat, breathe, grow, move, reproduce and have senses. The other kind is called nonliving things. Nonliving things do not eat, breathe, grow, move and reproduce. They do not have senses.

An example of a living thing in the world is a dog. A dog is an animal, and dogs need food, water, space, and shelter. The dog is a living thing. A tree or flower is a plant, and trees and flowers need air, nutrients, water, and sunlight. A flower and tree are also living things. Plants are living things and they need air, nutrients, water, and sunlight. Other living things are animals, and they need food, water, space, and shelter. A dog eats food, breathes in air, and grows from a puppy to a dog. A dog reproduces. Reproduce means to make one of its own kind. A dog also has senses. Senses are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling.

Other living things include people, cats, rabbits, bugs, lions, and many others. There are many different kinds of plants, too. Plants can include dandelions, grass, corn, tomatoes and much more.

Non-living things include things that do not need food, eat, reproduce, or breathe. A car does not eat or grow. It does not move unless a person is driving it. It does not need air to breathe and it has no sense. It is a non-living thing. A swing set does not use food. A book does not move. The swing set and book do not grow and they do not need air to breathe. They are non-living things. Nonliving things do not need air, food, nutrients, water, sunlight, or shelter. Other non-living things in the world include pencils, rocks, footballs, toys, hats, and many others.

One more example of a living thing is a bird. A bird eats seeds or worms. It breathes in air. It comes from an egg and grows. It moves by flying. It lays eggs and reproduces. It smells and sees because it has senses. A bird is a living thing.

One more example of a non-living things is a ball. A ball does not eat anything. It does not need to breathe. It never grows. It never moves unless a person throws or rolls it. The ball does not reproduce. It cannot hear or feel and it has no senses. A ball is a non-living thing.

In summary, everything in the world is a living thing or a non-living thing. Living things can be plants which need air, water, nutrients, and sunlight. Living things can be animals which need food, water, space, and shelter. There are living things and nonliving things everywhere. Living things eat, breathe, grow, move, reproduce and have senses. Reproduce means to make one of its own kind. The senses are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. Nonliving things do not eat, breathe, grow, move and reproduce. They do not have senses. A dog and tree are living things. A book and a car are nonliving things.

1) Which of the following is an example of a living thing?

A: Worm

B: House

C: Baseball

D: Car

2) A living thing eats, grow, moves, reproduces and has

A: Size

B: Water

C: Senses

D: Skin

3) A living thing does all of the following EXCEPT:

A: Eats

B: Grows

C: Moves

D: Lives forever

4) Which of the following is an example of a non-living thing?

A: Bird

B: Ball

C: Cat

D: Dog

5) Which of the following best defines reproduce?

A: To eat food to stay alive

B: Breathing in air

C: To move back and forth

D: To make one of its own kind

6) How many senses do living things have?

A: 3

B: 4

C: 5

D: 6
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