Living things don't exist in isolation

This focus idea is explored through:

Contrasting student and scientific views

Student everyday experiences

A student is measuring and marking plant height on a poster.Younger students tend to think of animals as individuals rather than focusing on populations or interactions.

By the end of Year 2 students may begin to understand that animals of the same species have similar internal parts and offspring.

Younger students interpret animal behaviour in terms of human emotions and motivations (for example, they believe the spider is ‘scared’, the rabbit ‘likes’ to live in burrows, the bird protecting its nest is ‘angry’), rather than seeing the behaviours as adaptive.

Young students can understand simple food links involving two organisms, yet they often think of organisms like family pets as independent of each other, but dependent on people to supply them with food and shelter.

Research: Tytler & Hubber (2004), Keil (1989), Leach, Driver, Scott & Wood-Robinson (1995)

Scientific view

Every living thing is linked, directly or indirectly, with a multitude of others in an ecos​ystem. There is an interrelationship between organisms and their environment which affects their distribution, abundance and survival, (for example, bees pollinate flowers and flowers rely on this for reproduction, while bees rely on flowers for food).

The world contains a wide variety of physical conditions, living and non-living, which create a wide variety of environments: freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain and others. In any particular environment the growth and survival of organisms depends on the physical conditions.

Critical teaching ideas

  • The behaviour of organisms and their interaction with other organisms assists their survival.
  • Organisms have a variety of body parts and structures that assist their survival by making or finding food, finding shelter and reproducing.
  • Organisms of the same type interact with one another and with other organisms in various ways. Some examples are parent/child and feeding relationships, the dependence of many plants on animals for carrying their pollen to other plants or for dispersing their seeds and the dependence of animals on plants for food

Explore the relationships between ideas about living things and their interactions in the Concept Development Maps – (DNA and Inherited Characteristics, Flow of Energy in Ecosystems,
        Natural Selection)

To build up a concept of the relationship between structure and function, students need to be exposed to a range of organisms within their habitats.

Teaching activities

Collect evidence/data for analysis

Encourage students to investigate conditions necessary for plant growth. One approach is to have them develop suitable questions for investigation such as:

  • will seeds grow in the dark?
  • do plants like salty water?
  • will seeds grow without water?

A pair of colourful parrots feeding.Students can determine what conditions they will change and what features of the plant they will measure. Encourage students to make and record observations using drawings in science journals or to make a visual record of germination and early growth using digital cameras.

Students can observe birds in the playground; they should watch how they interact with other birds and try to work out how they find food and shelter. They should infer how these behaviours assist in their survival. Such an activity can be extended by a trip to a zoo or nearby wetlands.

Provide an open problem that can be explored via play

Set students the task of designing a ‘theme park’ for ‘minibeasts’ where they consider the features and structure of the animals in order to design rides, slides and amusements for them. For example a slater (or rolly polly) might prefer a long tube through which it can roll when curled up in a ball.

When designing the rides, students should be encouraged to consider the impact of the animals’ structural features. For example, if animals have wings, how could these structures be used or protected in designing a ride or slide for them?

Focus students’ attention on overlooked detail

A wasp on a flower petal.Provide students with hand lenses and encourage them to collect a variety of insects and plants from the local school yard. Using the hand lenses, have students observe how the animals move and have them identify common features such as antennae, legs, abdomen and head. Encourage students to carefully observe and record various body structures and functions. They should relate these structures to the animals’ habitat and everyday function and survival. Have students look closely at the underneath of leaves for caterpillars, lerps, scale, aphids or other insects which may use the leaf as a source of food or protection.

Further resources

Science related interactive learning objects can be found on the FUSE Teacher Resources page.

To access the interactive learning object below, teachers must login to FUSE and search by Learning Resource ID:

  • Garden detective: explore an Australian garden – Students are encouraged to recognise that  the environment contains many living and non-living things too small to be seen clearly without magnification and to appreciate the diversity of plants and animals.
    Learning Resource ID:  LN96GD
  • Create a creature – Have a close look at body parts of small creatures such as a wolf spider, a beetle or a bull ant. Explore descriptions of each body part and its uses. For example, examine a scorpion's long tail to see how it is adapted to stinging prey. Build your own creature. Choose body parts to suit your animal's feeding behaviour, type of movement and habitat. This learning object is one in a series of three objects.
    Learning Resource ID:  FSBC3R