Lesson Plan

What's Living Around Me?

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Grade Level:
Lower Elementary: Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
State Standards:
NGSS: K. Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems: Animals, Plants, & Their Environments
ESS3.A : Natural Resources
          *Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Human

Essential Question

What creatures live around me, and what natural resources might they need to continue living?


Students will explore and investigate 4 different areas around campus (mud puddle, rocky parking lot, grass field, tree base) to determine other living things in those areas and what they might need from those areas.


There are living things all around us, other than humans and the obvious animals. With this exploration, kids will discover living macroinvertebrates (an animal without a backbone, which can be seen without a microscope) in the different areas around our school campus. Students must have a beginning, prior knowledge of a T-Chart and know how to copy print. 


  • 1 clipboard & pencil per child
  • 1 blank paper per child
  • 4 hula-hoops or small area marker
  • 4 flags or stakes with environment label on it (tree base, rock parking lot, mud puddle, grass field) to place at observation sight
  • A printed field guide of macroinvertebrates with visuals and labels for reference


Download Know/Want to Know/Learned (KWL) Chart (printable)

Lesson Hook/Preview

Show students a slideshow type view of the different macroinvertebrates, without really telling them too much about them. Then listen and ask for their opinions and feelings when they saw these, and where they think these little invertebrates live. (Know/Want to Know/Learned chart with an opinion/reaction column)
Pictures and slideshow of pacific northwest macroinvertebrates are available at:


Pre-Lesson Set up: (5 min.)
  1. Find the 4 areas that you plan on using for observation, place a hula-hoop in each location, with a flag or stake that has the name of that location on it for future labeling.
  2. Gather Materials
Intro: (10 min.)
  1. Ask students, “What living things do we have around us?” Make a brief list on the whiteboard or chart paper. Also make sure to intro and use the vocab word “environment”.
  2. Show students the different macroinvertebrate pictures, that can be found at https://www.nwnature.net/macros/index.html and record their thoughts, opinions, and reactions.
  3. Discuss: Have any of the kids seen these, know where these live, or know what they were called?
Lesson: (20-35 min.)
  1. Introduce the idea of these macroinvertebrates and explain that we are going to go search for some today. Discuss the idea of living versus non-living, where these macroinvertebrates might be found, and why they might be found in the areas that we are going to observe today. Fill in the *W part of the KWL chart quickly before you head out. Each student will need a Recording Page, a folded sheet of paper on which they record their findings.
  2. After explaining student behavior and student expectation, the process and task expectation, then the teacher will pass out the materials and get ready to leave the classroom.
  3. Parent volunteers or teacher’s aide will take 2 of the 4 groups to the tree base & grassy field observation areas, while teacher takes 2 groups to the mud puddle and the gravel parking lot. Adults will will switch when kids are done, about 10 minutes/2 areas at least. While at these areas, students will observe and explore to see what they can find. They should be able to say if it’s damp or dry, if they find any macroinvertebrates, and then draw 1-3 macroinvertebrates that they can find in each area as time allows on their Recording Page. They should also copy the name of the location (mud puddle, gravel parking lot, etc.) off the flag/stake onto the top of their folded paper where they’re drawing and recording their findings. They can also write any words that they want to remember on their paper too. If the kids have printed field guides showing different macroinvertebrates, hopefully some of them can even copy the names that label their pictures.
Post Observation Discussion:
  1. After students have visited all 4 locations, as a group meet, discuss, and share some of their findings. Discuss why certain macroinvertebrates lived near the tree base while maybe different ones lived in the mud puddle. Make sure to use reference to nutrients & needs for that area, and hopefully distinguish between terrestrial and aquatic macroinvertebrates here. Use this discussion to add info to the KWL chart.


  • Macroinvertebrates: an animal lacking a backbone, which can be seen without using a microscope.
  • Terrestrial: refers to the land/ground where the macroinvertebrate lives
  • Aquatic: refers to the wet/water based area where the macroinvertebrate lives
  • Environment: the area surrounding you or around a macroinvertebrate that affects its survival
  • Nutrients: substances that must be obtained from the surrounding area for survival 

Assessment Materials

ASSESSMENT  What’s Living Around Me

As the students are turning in their observation recordings, note how many illustrations they made, and if they are able to describe their drawings or tell the teacher why they found those M.I. in the environment they did.

As students have finished, collect their recording pages. They should have labeled the top of each page with 1 observation location and then drawn 1-3 macroinvertebrates on each page. As students finish, I will have them explain to me quickly something they drew and where they found it, and as time allows I will ask each student a question informally to see what they can tell me about today’s learnings. 

Assessment for the activity "What's Living Around Me?"

Download Assessment

Supports for Struggling Learners

The teacher or other adults can physically help that child with their recordings. They could also have the environments previously listed on the top of the recording sheet. This is also where the field guide would come in handy! Make sure the teacher is using the vocabulary words during discussions, out in the field, and during assessment too. You could also partner up these struggling students with a helpful peer. 

Enrichment Activities

Excelling students could explore a different environmental area at home or even on the school grounds, record their findings, and share their findings with the class. Using a field guide, they could be challenged to find maybe 10 M.I. from the guide.

Related Lessons or Education Materials

Segues into the related lesson: “Macroinvertebrates and their body parts.”

Contact Information

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Last updated: April 6, 2020