Organisms: Grades K-4

SciGuide

SciGuides are a collection of thematically aligned lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources for teachers to use with their students centered on standards-aligned science concepts.

The National Science Education Standards (NSES) for this Life Science topic call on students to appreciate the interrelationships among plants, animals, and their environments. In this guide, "environments" include both living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) components.

Science textbooks and the Internet describe organisms and their environments using common terminology, such as habitats and biomes; food webs, behavior, and populations; and so on. This web guide provides links to teacher- and student-friendly core content, inquiry, and aligned assessment websites.

Some of the examples enable teachers to develop meaningful lesson plans and activities that help students understand organisms and their environments. A team of experienced science teachers reviewed and evaluated each website before submission, and all resources correlate with the NSES.

Grades
  • Elementary

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Reviews (21)
  • on Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:12 AM

SciGuides are really fantastic. When it's time to teach life science, I can be confident knowing I'll have the Organisms: Grades 4-8 SciGuide to go to for lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources. I'll be able to create outstanding lessons in a shorter amount of time since many resources are easily accessible in this SciGuide.

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:17 AM

Good lessons in the ecosystems section for 4th graders.

Ryan
Ryan

  • on Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:46 PM

The Sciguide Organisms: K-4, is a great resource for teachers who are looking to introduce the interrelationships among plants, animals, and their environment. I loved that links were provided for lower elementary grades on plants and animals, as well as life cycles. At my school, the second grade focuses on plant and animal life cycles in the 1st and 2nd quarter and their relationship. I found the lesson plans provided by the ScuGuide were similar to what I have implemented already in my classroom, but I was ecstatic to find a lesson purely for developing a hypothesis. I had a hard time encouraging my second graders to test out an idea. I think the next time I have them write a hypothesis, I will use some of what the lesson plan had suggested. :) I really have no suggestions for improvement. It was very easy to navigate and access. Such a great SciGuide! I look forward to discovering new possible lessons that I could manipulate for my own class.

Elena S
Elena S

  • on Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:22 AM

This SciGuide is a resource that I would highly recommend to teachers that are teaching "Life Science" to young learners. It has an extensive collection of lesson plans, vignettes, video clips, student samples and much, much more. The components in this SciGuide are all about the systems and interdependence of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) things within their environment. There are three over-arching themes included in this SciGuide which are community, ecosystems and environment. This SciGuide offers links to resources that include the characteristics, diversity, adaptations, regulation, and life cycles of organisms. It also offers a wealth of information about food chains/webs (producers, consumers, decomposers) and how organisms change their environment and how populations adapt in an ecosystem. The SciGuide also provides resources about organisms’ needs, environment resources and dangers in particular biomes and habitats. If you're looking for life science materials that are engaging and age appropriate for young learners, then you don't need to look any further as this SciGuide provides access to all of this great information for your science learning needs.

Sandra Dolbin
Sandra Dolbin

  • on Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:43 PM

The Organisms SciGuide is a useful tool for identifying technology resources and lesson plans that would be appropriate to teach about communities, environment, and ecosystems. This SciGuide complements the Coral Reef Ecosystems and Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems SciPacks. One thing that I liked about this SciGuide was that it was easy to follow and find appropriate technology resources which is important to me as a Technology Coordinator. These resources will help me to integrate technology with content area to help students learn the content. I also found the SciGuide Map that is on the first page useful in giving me an overview of the topics covered in the SciGuide and a quick way to access information that I found relevant to what I wanted to teach. One of the things that I did not like about this SciGuide is that 2 of the 3 lessons included are for 5th grade and above while the SciGuide is K-4. I think that all of the lessons should be aligned to the grade level indicated for the SciGuide. Overall, the Organisms K-4 SciGuide will provide additional resources and insight to help you teach lessons related to food webs, life cycles, interdependence, organisms and many other related areas!

Rena R
Rena R

  • on Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:01 AM

This collection of lessons combine the inquiry approach into the lifestyles of organisms and their connection to their environment. The weblinks available in this sci-guides have been well reviewed by no less than the experts in the field in order to provide consistent truths with other available researches.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Thu May 02, 2013 12:35 AM

I read this SciGuide after teaching the life science standards to my students. However, it has shown me how well I aligned my lessons about life science to the standards. I did lessons very similar to the sample lessons in the SciGuide. What this has taught me is how I could have taken those lessons even further. I especially enjoyed the lesson in Community called “How Does Your Garden Grow?” I did a similar experiment where students had to answer the question of can a seed germinate without soil? They set up three zip-loc bags with three green bean seeds in each. One zip-loc had only water and the seeds. Another had water, newspaper, and the seeds. The last zip-loc had water, a paper towel, and the seeds. We made observations each day and concluded that the seed could germinate without soil if there were newspaper or paper towels. I would have taken the last part of the “How Does Your Garden Grow” lesson and had my students write follow up questions like other materials to test seed germination so they could write their own experiment and investigation. All in all, this SciGuide has good ideas but some need to be tweaked to match your location. The lesson plans in the Ecosystems and Environment themes are state or location-specific. Living in Hawaii, I would need to definitely change it to suit Hawaii’s environment. Those lessons are also written for grades 5-8 which I found interesting because the SciGuide’s title says it’s meant for Grades K-4. They could definitely be written in simpler language with grade-appropriate activities more suitable for lower elementary. I’m just not sure if the title accurately describes its content.

Sherilynn Chang
Sherilynn Chang

  • on Wed May 02, 2012 6:44 AM

This is an excellent resource for ideas on teaching ecosystems, and survival. Unfortunately, many of the internet links no longer work, and some of the activities are not quite appropriate for the K-4 range. One particularly exceptional website, whose link still work is: http://www.enaturalist.org/topic.htm?topic_ID=94 Here students can connect the science content that they learn in school and apply it to an environmental cause and become advocates for improving our environment.

Margeaux Ikuma
Margeaux Ikuma

  • on Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:47 PM

The Sciguide was useful because it connected well with the Scipacks on Coral Reef Ecosystems and the Flow of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems. The lessons shared in the Sciguide provided me with starting points for creating my own lessons. The lesson plan: Survivors! piqued my interest because it related adaptations of native species to their survival in cold weather. However, although the concept seemed promising, many of the website links no longer work or were connected to sites that were not permitted via our DOE internal portal. One website that did prove to be particularly useful was: http://www.enaturalist.org/topic.htm?topic_ID=17. The site even contains information about whale watching in Hawaii and Alaska! Despite some of the setbacks, I would recommend other teachers to view the Sciguide for resources and information when considering building units/lessons on ecosystems and interdependence.

Margeaux
Margeaux

  • on Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:38 AM

The organisms Sciguide is a wonderful resource. It contains three seperate sections: community, ecosystems, and environment. It also covers a variety of themes: Animal Species, Life Cycles, Plant spreciers, Behavior, Food Web, Population, Biomes and Habitast. Within each theme this sciguide provided lesson plans, case studeies, vignettes, audio clips, on-line web bsed resources and samples of student work. This SciGuide Is a great resource as it supports many of the fourth grade standards and benchmarks. One of the parts that I liked about this sciguide was that it offered interactive on line web pages. The Walk in the Woods was especially intruiguing since we live in hawaii we dont have the same oppurtunities to be outside and experience the great outdoors. Having all of these resources at my fingertips makes finding support and resources fun for both my students and myself.

Liamarie Thomas
Liamarie Thomas

  • on Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:27 PM

I found The Organisms K-4 Sciguide to be a resourceful reference. There are three separate parts: Community, Ecosystems and Environment. Then in to themes; Animals Species, Life Cycles, Plant Species, Behavior, Food Web, Populations, Biomes and Habitat. Within each theme there are lesson plans, case studies, audio clips and samples of student work. Also provided in each theme were online web based resources. The overall theme of this sciguide is the awareness, concern and care for our environments. It allows educators to utilize this resource to implement these important ideas within our classrooms. I can suggest that the sites be periodically updated to ensure appropriate access. One example is the Survivors lesson. I was not able access the links. I found that disappointing when I was planning to use the lesson in my class.

tara Soleta  (Honolulu, HI)
tara Soleta (Honolulu, HI)

  • on Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:24 PM

The Organisms (K-4) SciGuide is an excellent resource composed of three separate parts: community, ecosystems, and environment. It is further broken down into themes; Animals Species, Life Cycles, Plant Species, Behavior, Food web, Population, Biomes, and Habitat. Within each theme there were lesson plans, case studies (vignettes), audio clips, and samples of student work. Also provided in each theme were online web-based resources. In reading through the SciGuide they focused on specific environments, animals and plants, but an underlying theme that was an “aha” to me was caring for the environment. This is a theme I will carry into my life science lessons and will tie in with other standards I am teaching in the future. After completing the SciGuide I began thinking about assessment. I would like to see some assessment ideas attached to the lesson plans and websites. This would help me gain a perspective on how other teachers are using the data and assessing it.

Katherine Tierney  (waipahu, HI)
Katherine Tierney (waipahu, HI)

  • on Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:51 PM

The Organisms sciguide opened my eyes to the numerous resources available for teachers teaching science. I was able to use the sciguide to find lesson plans, graphics and interactive games to use within my classroom. The organisms sciguide was broken up into three main categories: Environment, Ecosystem and Community. Each category is broken up into subgroups which provide lesson plans, hands on activities, data, graphics, assessments and much more. Environment is split into two sections: Biomes links and Habitat Links. Ecosystem contains three sections: Behavior links, Population links and Food Web links. Lastly, Community is also split into three areas which are Animal Species, Plant Species and Life Cycles links.

Sara K
Sara K

  • on Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:58 AM

This SciGuide is separated into three themes: Community, Ecosystems, and Environment. Each theme is further divided into topics or keywords such as behavior, plant and animal species, food webs, etc. It is easy to navigate and find information. The only problem with the SciGuide is that although it says K-4, many of the activities and links are most suitable for students in higher grade levels. There is often a lot of reading or information that uses higher level vocabulary and requires better reading comprehension. Also, some of the links were inactive. There were a few interactive sites such as the Build-a-Fish website by the Shedd Aquarium and the Hatch to Catch activity that would be very engaging for students. I will probably use a few of the resources; however if you are looking for things at a lower level, you will probably have to adapt some of the information and activities to make therm more accessible for your students.

Jason O
Jason O

  • on Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:01 PM

The Organisms Grades K-4 SciGuide was a really great SciGuide to look at. It provided me with many different activities, even computer interactive activities. I was also able to view different student samples. This helped give me a big picture of what types of student responses to accept. It was very engaging and I had a few students look at the computer interactive activities as well. My students liked the Build-A-Fish activity. They seemed to enjoy those activities. This sciguide helped to provide me with lots of knowledge, especially on the different ecosystems. I also appreciate how immediate feedback is given once an activity is completed, providing for positive student reinforcement. With interactive activities, learning seems to be more successful for my students.

Deanna Spain
Deanna Spain

  • on Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:21 PM

This Science Guide is for elementary teachers. It has many resources on communities, ecosystems and environment. You did have to search for which links were working and which links held relevant content. My favorite activity that was on this guide was the Build-A-Fish activity. I used this with my third grade students to teach them about adaptations. It is an activity that lets students discover why fish have certain body types and colorings and how that helps them to survive. They get to play a game after they build their fish and the fish may or may not be able to survive based on the adaptations they chose. But the game allows them to learn from their mistakes and create new fish. All of my third graders were able to successfully navigate the program and in turn learn about adaptations to some degree. I appreciated the link to a resource that provided hands-on learning for my students.

Shawna F
Shawna F

  • on Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:43 PM

The Organisms: Grades K-4 SciGuide had many excellent web resources. I was able to easily find links to such topics as ecosystems, behavior, biomes, and other plant/animal world topics. The guide was easy to navigate and filter through, but I was expecting to find more ready-to-use lessons. Although each sub-topic offered a lesson, I was disappointed to find that the lessons were pretty location-specific. For example, one lesson was based on a student field trip to Crater Lake. The lesson was well developed, but would not be easily adaptable for my Hawaii-native students who have no knowledge of this area. I would like to see more general lessons on science topics that can be easily used in any classroom. Also, many of the links I clicked on were inactive or came back with an error message when attempting to load. I was disappointed because the links seemed to be great resources for my classroom teaching. Despite some setbacks, I did find this SciGuide useful for my teaching of science in the third grade classroom. There are several sites that I found useful in helping to develop meaningful lessons. The National Geographic interactive feature on the Monterey Bay kelp forest shows how certain plants depend on animals and could be a key tool for me to use in teaching my students this benchmark. My Hawaiian students will easily be able to relate to life in the ocean since the Pacific surrounds us. There is also a link to Discovery Kids that shows worms as recyclers (decomposers) and an interactive pollination game that allows students to match pollinators with the plants they help. Overall, this SciGuide might take a little “digging around” to find what is relevant for your students, but worth the time.

Alayna
Alayna

  • on Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:50 PM

This SciGuide is organized into three themes: Community, Ecosystems, and Environment. I looked at the Environment theme because the content is about Biomes, the Hawaii Content Standard I will be teaching in my next second grade unit. Although content, inquiry, and assessment are listed as key tools, I found that this SciGuide is heavy on content. This SciGuide is great for the teacher to learn about biomes. This SciGuide also includes some technology learning experiences. There are a lot of photographs of plants, animals, and biomes for students to observe, games (To Plant Or Not To Plant) to play and learn about plants and the biomes they grow in, and videos for students to watch. I personally recommend the National Geographic Explorer for Kids because it is has many videos and photographs about all kinds of interesting animals.

Sherrilyn  (Hilo, Hawaii)
Sherrilyn (Hilo, Hawaii)

  • on Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:07 PM

The Organisms: Grades K-4 SciGuide is a good resource to help teachers familiarize themselves with the different types of animal and plant species living in various environments. It provides a wealth of external websites, interactives, and lesson plans to help teachers make learning more enjoyable for their students. The SciGuide contains 3 different themes: Community, Ecosystems, and Environment. These themes help the teacher navigate the SciGuide easily because these themes are further broken down into more specific topics. Since the SciGuide topic is very broad, it does not go in-depth with the various organisms that exist in the world. It touches upon some organisms, but not all. For example, it has resources on pilot whales, humpback whales, cockatoos, butterflies, frogs, leatherback sea turtles, fungi, emperor penguins, and earthworms. Another aspect of the SciGuide that made it a bit challenging to get the information I was looking for was that a lot of the links I clicked on led me to websites that contained more links to other websites.

Rayna
Rayna

  • on Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:37 PM

This SciGuide is great for elementary students. I loved the map. It gave me an overview of how this SciGuide is organized. It included three themes: 1) Community. 2) Ecosystems. 3) Environment. Under each theme, key words of each lesson within the theme were displayed. Each theme/lesson included various sites for teachers as well as students that enhance the classroom experience. Each theme/website encompasses great wealth of information including graphic/multimedia. My only disappointment is that the lessons included too much information that you needed to spend a lot of time to review and decide what is relevant and what is irrelevant for your students.

Shahinaz Nassar  (Wailuku, HI)
Shahinaz Nassar (Wailuku, HI)

  • on Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:29 PM

This SciGuide is great for elementary students. I loved the map. It gave me an overview of how this SciGuide is organized. It included three themes: 1) Community. 2) Ecosystems. 3) Environment. Under each theme, key words of each lesson within the theme were displayed. Each theme/lesson included various sites for teachers as well as students that enhance the classroom experience. Each theme/website encompasses great wealth of information including graphic/multimedia. My only disappointment is that the lesson included too much information that you needed to spend a lot of time to review and decide what is relevant and what is irrelevant of your students.

Shahinaz Nassar  (Wailuku, HI)
Shahinaz Nassar (Wailuku, HI)


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