Stage ES1 – Science – The Needs of Living Things

Students at Bournda
Early Stage 1 students learning about living things at Bournda National Park

Program Overview

This program is designed specifically for ESI students who are learning about their natural environment. Students will learn about what plants and animals need to survive and how plants and animals respond to changes in the environment. They will explore plants using magnifying glasses, meet animal puppets, go on a nature trail and create habitats for animals showing what they have learnt. They also complete a number of sensory activities – including touch, smell, sound and sight. The day concludes with a fun tag game where students are possums and can only win the game when they have collected all of their needs:  water, shelter, air and food.

Key Questions

1. What do we notice about living things?

2. What do living things need to survive?

3. How do daily and seasonal changes affect the environment?

Learning Experiences

Nature trail

Students are introduced to the idea of a nature trail through the text “The Bushwalk” by Sandra Kendell.

Students will then begin a nature trail to find items that have been placed along the trail, and also to use their own ‘detective’ eyes to discover any other things of interest (signs of living things). Students will learn about how plants and animals respond to changes in the environment, such as day and night and seasonal changes.

What do plants and animals need to survive?

Students find their favourite leaf and examine with a magnifying glass. Activities are then conducted that help students understand what plants need to survive. Students visit the big old fig tree at Scott’s Bay and learn how plants need certain things to survive, but some animals need plants to survive. Using animal puppets students brainstorm all the different things that animals need to survive and record them under four headings: food, air, water and shelter. The students use pictures of the animals and end up creating a graph.

The students will work in small groups and use model plants and water as well as collected small rocks, logs, leaves and bark, to create a habitat for an animal they have chosen. When their habitats have been created, providing the needs of life (food, air, water, shelter), the animals are placed into them. Each group will then tour the other groups habitats and communicate their choices. All materials are returned to their collection site.

Possum tag

Students play ‘Possum Tag’ – a game designed to consolidate the learning from the day. Students wear possum ears and need to catch their food, water, air and shelter so that they can survive.

Preparing for an excursion

Post-visit material

Syllabus Outcomes

Science and technology K-6: Living World

  • STe-3LW-ST explores the characteristics, needs and uses of living things
  • STe-1WS-S observes, questions and collects data to communicate ideas

Science and technology K-6: Earth and Space

  • STe-6ES-S identifies how daily and seasonal changes in the environment affect humans and other living things

Science Content


Characteristics and basic needs of living things

  • recognise that living things have basic needs including air, food and water (ACSSU002)
  • compare the basic needs of some plants and animals
  • participate in guided investigations to identify living things and the external features of plants and animals in the local environment
  • communicate findings of observations of living things in their environment

Changes in the environment

  • identify daily and seasonal changes that occur in our environment, such as day and night, and changes in the weather (ACSSU004)
  • explore how living things respond to regular changes in their environment

Differentiation adjustments for high potential and gifted students:

Complexity – What if there wasn’t enough forest left for the animals? What can we do to help make sure that the needs of all our native animals are being met?

Challenge – Students are provided with opportunities to learn advanced level content through engagement with BEEC staff.

Choice – Students are given choice to demonstrate their level of learning and open-ended activities encourage free-thinking and alignment with different interest areas.