Characteristics of Living Things: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Dacia Upkins

Dacia has taught all core elementary subjects for 14 years with a Master's degree in Urban Teacher Leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn what all living things have in common. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to determine if something is a living thing.

Living Things Have Similarities

Did you know that a cactus and an elephant have lots of things in common? Besides the fact that they're just both super cool, cacti and elephants are both living things, which make them similar in many ways. There are certain characteristics that all living things have in common.

What Do All Living Things Have in Common?

Living Things Are Made of Cells and Grow

Have you ever looked closely at a sugar cube? If you were to crush the sugar cube, you'd notice that it is made up of much smaller granules, or pieces, of sugar. Like the sugar cube, all living things are made up of very small cells, which are known as the building blocks of life. Over time, many of these cells multiply in most living things, which causes them to grow. Many cells can also repair damaged parts of living things. Thank goodness, because surely you want your bumps and bruises to heal eventually!

The cells of an onion.
onion cell

Living Things Need Food and Eliminate Waste

The Snickers commercials show people getting cranky when they're hungry. They're funny but true! Living things, including animals, plants and even mushrooms need food for energy to keep going. Think about how you feel when you haven't eaten. You most likely feel tired and don't want to do anything. Living things also have to get rid of waste that builds up in the body from things like food, extra water, gases, and extra heat.

Living things need food for energy.
Gopher eating

Living Things Reproduce

Looking at a new litter of puppies makes my day! It is also a reminder that all living things reproduce, or make new, smaller versions of themselves. Dog parents that want to make sure that their breed never becomes extinct, or disappears forever, are the ones that create those fuzzy litters of puppies. Whether it's from an egg or a seed, this is one reason why all living things reproduce.

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