Thursday, November 10, 2011

Annotated Bib - Plant and Animal Life Cycles

The life cycles of plants and animals are fascinating. This can be a very engaging subject since kids tend to ask "How?" and "Why?" about just any subject. Life cycles of plants and animals are able to be represented in a visual way, making it easier for students to understand the concepts.

In Virginia, life cycles are found in the Standards of Learning in kindergarten, Grade 2, and Grade 3. The resources in this post are most appropriate for grades K, 2, and 3. (SOL and Background Info at end of post.)


The Life Cycle of a Flower By: Molly Aloian and Bobbie Kalman (2004). Crabtree Publishing Company (978-0778706977). Grades 1 - 5.
Another in Kalman's life cycle series, this book uses wonderful photos graphs and illustrations to show the life cycle of flowers. There is a lot of information, including a glossary of terms, that will be helpful is showing students the full cycle of seed to flower.

Pick, Pull, Snap! Where Once a Flower Bloomed By: Lola Shaefer. Illustrated by Lindsay Barrett George (2003). Greenwillow Book (978-0688178345). Grades 1 - 4.
This wonderfully illustrated book shows children how different flowers and foods come from the bloom that once was on the plant. The pages give a description of the process for each plant and then the page flips open to show what comes from the bloom. The back of the book contains instructions for planting certain plants (great if you are able to have a classroom garden) and also contains a glossary of terms.

This Is Your Life Cycle By: Lynn Miller. Illustrated by: Michael Chesworth (2008). Clarion Books (978-0618724857). Grades 1 - 5.
This thoroughly engaging book is told in a "This Is Your Life" way. Dahlia the Dragonfly is reintroduced to "people" from her past, including the mother who was so exhausted after laying 800 eyes that she just "died", the turtle who tried to eat her, and her twin brother. The fun layout is humorous while still relaying a great understanding of Dahlia's life cycle...even up to her becoming a Dragonfly and trying to eat the audience.

Watch Them Grow - The Amazing Ways That Animals and Plants Change As They Grow. By: Linda Martin (1994). DK Publishing (978-0751351354). Grades 1 - 4.
This book shows the life cycle of different animals - cats, dogs, rabbits, chickens, frogs, etc - and also flowers and foods. The book shows pictures that depict multiple steps in the life cycles.

What is a Life Cycle? By: Bobbie Kalman. Illustrated by: Jaqueline Langille (1998). Crabtree Publishing Company (978-0865058866). Grades 2 - 5.
This book contains photos, illustrations, and charts to introduce students to different life cycles including plants and seeds, eggs, amphibians, birds, mammals, humans. It also includes dangers to life cycles and definitions to help students. The author also has other titles that cover specific topics.


The Cycles of Life - Interactive Game
This game allows students to put 4 stages in the life cycle in order. It includes a butterfly, frog, flower, and tree. Once students put the stages in order they are rewarded with a frog jumping or a butterfly flying around their screen. Next to each stage is a description.

Human Life Cycle - Interactive Game
In this game produced by the BBC, the student must help a school's headmaster who has taken a potion that reverses the aging process. The student need to help the headmaster return to his original age in time for a parent conference! The game uses descriptive terms of each stage of human life to help illustrate the human life cycle. At the end the student can print off a badge. - Lesson Plans
This site contains descriptions of the life cycles of butterflies and frogs and toads. It uses pictures, videos, and slide shows to illustrate each stage. There are also other lesson plans to access.

Life Cycle Activities
eHow Family shows different activities that students can preform to help their understanding of different life cycles.

Life Cycle - Diversity in a Balance
Contains lesson plans for human and plant life cycles. Each cell, under a specific grade level contains 3 lesson plans and student worksheets per week. Multimedia activities, web links, and dictionaries can also be found. Lesson plans increase in difficulty through the grades. Each grade level builds knowledge in a logical sequence.

The Life Cycle of a Butterfly
This site has plenty of information on the life cycle of a butterfly. It also contains pictures and graphics as well as vocabulary, poems about butterflies, fun facts, recommended books, and links to other butterfly sites and even lesson plans!

For Teachers

Virginia Standard of Learning
K.7 The student will investigate and understand basic needs and life processes of plants and animals. Key concepts include
c) plants and animals change as they grow, have varied life cycles, and eventually die; and
d) offspring of plants and animals are similar but not identical to their parents or to one another.

2.4 The student will investigate and understand that plants and animals undergo a series of orderly changes as they mature and grow. Key concepts include
a) animal life cycles; and
b) plant life cycles.

3.8 The student will investigate and understand basic patterns and cycles occurring in nature. Key concepts include
b) animal life cycles

Background Information from Curriculum Framework:

  • Plants and animals change as they grow.
  • Animals need adequate food, water, shelter, air, and space to survive.
  • Some animals are terrestrial animals, some animals are aquatic animals, and some are both. Terrestrial animals get their oxygen from the air they breathe and aquatic animals extract oxygen from water.
  • In order to survive, plants need nutrients, water, air, light, and a place that has adequate space for them to grow.
  • Plants provide food for people and animals.
  • Some plants are terrestrial plants and some are aquatic plants.
  • Plants release oxygen as a product of photosynthesis and the oxygen is then used by other living things. Carbon dioxide from the air enters a leaf through the stomata. Oxygen is produced by plants as a waste product and is released into the air through the stomata.
  • Plants and animals change as they grow and eventually die. These processes are part of their life cycles. The life cycles of plants and animals vary by species.
  • Many offspring of plants and animals are like their parents but not identical to them or to one another.
Grade Two
  • Throughout their lives, plants and animals undergo a series of orderly and identifiable changes.
  • Some animals, such as mealworms, pill bugs, frogs, and butterflies go through distinct stages as they mature to adults. Other animals, such as crickets, praying mantises, gray squirrels, and white-tailed deer, resemble their parents from birth to maturity and do not have distinct stages.
  • The basic stages in the life cycle of flowering plants include: seeds, germination of the seed, growth of the stem and roots, growth of leaves, growth of flowers, fertilization (pollination) of the flowers, production of fruit/new seeds, and death.
Grade Three
  • A cycle is a repeated pattern. A sequence is a series of events that occur in a natural order.
  • Plants and animals undergo life cycles (e.g., Frogs begin as eggs in water. The eggs grow into tadpoles, the tadpoles eventually become frogs, and the adult frogs lay eggs to start a new life cycle over again. In the plant life cycle, a seed grows into a new plant that forms seeds. Then the new seeds repeat the life cycle.).

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