Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A Couch or a Potato

Kelley Harvey


Students classify objects/organisms seen on the Wakulla Springs icam website as living or nonliving.


The student knows how to classify things as living and nonliving.


-Small paper or plastic bag, 1 per group
-Collection of living (plant, leaf, twig, bug, pictures of animals and people) and nonliving (chalk, eraser, rock, sand, water, plastic object, pencil, coin) things
-1 piece of yarn, 2 feet long tied at end, 2 pieces per group
-Labels for living and nonliving, 1 type per group
-Data sheet, 1 per student
-Crayon pack or pencil, 1 per child
-Computer with Internet access
-Avery Key and television or other projection machine and screen ready to be turned on


-Gather materials
-Make a class set of Data Sheets
-Log on Internet and go to
-Set up projection device and check for clarity
-If students are unfamiliar with Wakulla Springs, read background information at and be prepared to talk to students about it


1. To introduce the lesson, divide the students into small groups. Tell students they are to collect 10 or more small objects. Take the class to the playground or other outside area. Allow 5-10 minutes for collecting specimens. Return to the classroom.

2. As students return to the room, distribute 2 pieces of yarn and a set of labels to each group. Call on a student to read the labels. Discuss what the words living and nonliving mean.

3. Tell the students to lay the yarn circles on a desk and put 1 label inside of each circle. Instruct the students to take the objects from their bags and place them in the circle where they belong. As you monitor this activity, you may see a need to add to a groupís collection to insure that each classification is adequately represented.

4. After 10 minutes, call a halt to the activity. Call upon each group to share the objects in the living circle. Ask students why they put specific items in that circle. For example, why did you put the flower in the living circle? Students should respond with the definition of a living thing: alive now or was once alive.

5. Repeat activity 4 with the collection of nonliving things. A nonliving thing is a thing that was never alive and will never be alive.

6. Have students carefully return the objects, yarn, and labels to the bag. Collect the bags. You may use these later as a review of living and nonliving things.

7. Instruct students to return to their desks. The next part of the lesson will be completed individually. Turn studentsí attention to the Wakulla Spring icam website by turning on the projector device. Give the students background on the site. For example, a camera was placed near the recreation area at Wakulla Springs. If your students are unfamiliar with the Springs, background information is provided at

8. Pass out a Data Sheet (in associated file) to each student. Direct the students to look for living and nonliving things they see on the screen. Instruct the students to write or draw the living and nonliving things they see in the correct circle on the Data Sheet. After 10 minutes, take up each student's Data Sheet to be scored later.

9. End the lesson with a review of the definitions of living and nonliving things.


On the provided data sheet, students will classify objects/organisms seen at the Wakulla Springs icam website as living or non-living.
The criteria for mastery is as follows:
-- Evident: student correctly classifies 6 or more objects/organisms as seen on the Wakulla Springs icam website as living or nonliving with 3 or more objects in each group.
--Developing: student correctly classifies 4 or more objects as seen on the Wakulla Springs icam web site as living or nonliving with 2 or more objects in each group.
-- Not Evident: student is unable to meet the criteria for evident mastery or developing mastery.
A student whose mastery is not evident requires further instruction and corrective, formative feedback.


For the assessment, students who cannot write the names of the living and nonliving objects they see may draw these objects. If objects are drawn but unable to be identified, the teacher should question the identity of the object and label it.

Web Links

Web supplement for A Couch or a Potato
Web World Wonders

Web supplement for A Couch or a Potato
Web World Wonders

Attached Files

File attachment.     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.