Kerr Mackie Primary School

Living Things and Their Habitats

To stir up the children's curiosity we started the topic with objects covered by a cloth. What could it be? How could it be linked to living things? After much discussion and excitement we revealed a range of stuffed animals which puzzled the children. We then asked the children how they would sort these creatures? What patterns did they see? What habitats did the real versions live in? What characteristics do they have? As a class we were able to sort and label them into different groups.
  • describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to common observable characteristics and based on similarities and differences, including micro-organisms, plants and animals
  • give reasons for classifying plants and animals based on specific characteristics
We applied this categorising confidence to objects to see how many groups the children could create. Could objects fit into more than one? Can animals and living things be classified in different ways? 
We then learnt new animal groups such as molluscs and crustaceans. 
Using images, we sorted different animals and living things in yet more categories, paying attention to their characteristics. This time, children were pressed to justify their choices and give detailed reasons. 
In order to prepare for our challenge, we observed characteristics and learnt about microorganisms. The children were interested by the fact that these cannot be seem without microscopes. We explored zoomed-in images and yet again identified characteristics. The children became confident with the three main groups of bacteria, virus and fungus. 
One afternoon after much discussion about mushrooms and watching a clip from Attenborough, we used the Forest School area to go on a fungus hunt to explore more about their habitats and think about why fungus breeds in dark, damp places.
To end the topic, we set up a comparable fair test to see if mould would grow at different rates on sliced bread, depending on whether our hands had been cleaned with sanitiser, not at all or with soap and sanitiser before it was sealed in clingfilm. Eager to observe the growing of mould and watching live microorganisms spreading, the children made notes everyday for 2 weeks about how the bread changed. Finally, the children were delighted to conclude that many predictions were correct and mould sprouted on the piece that had been handled with soap/sanitiser.
As an extra challenge, we then explored zooplankton (a microscopic creature), identifying features of real examples before designing our own and then moulding it from Playdoh. Year 6 really enjoyed thinking about where their creature would live and how it would survive and of course presenting their models to the class.