Strategies For teaching Living Things And Their Habitats Year 5

Teaching Living Things and Their Habitats Year 5? In part one of this blog post, we looked at what pupils might already know about the topic. In this blog post, we’ll explore teaching strategies to teach life cycles, sexual and asexual reproduction. Lastly, we’ll discuss strategies to teach the scientific vocabulary needed to understand the unit.

  1. Organising The Information in Living Things and their Habitats year 5

To ensure a deeper understanding of the primary science curriculum, it’s important to connect substantive knowledge (facts that pupils need to know), together in a logical way. To do this, we can use the Big Ideas of science, which are underlying principles that explain scientific phenomena.

The Big Ideas for this unit are 4,7,8,9 and 10. They are shown below:

I then sequenced them into a logical narrative for teaching Living Things and Their Habitats Year 5. In short, adaptations for survival, sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction:

  • Adaptations help an organism successfully complete its life cycle in its habitat and get the opportunity to reproduce.
  • Sexual reproduction involves a mixture of characteristics from both parents, which leads to variation
  • Asexual reproduction involves one parent only and offspring are identical to their parent, so there is less likely to be variation.

2. Strategies For Teaching living Things And Their Habitats Year 5

Now we have sorted what we will teach we need to look at how we want pupils to learn the content. The aim is to develop concrete learning experiences around each concept that help pupils develop a deep understanding. These experiences involve objects that can be seen, touched, tasted, heard, smelt or measured. We use our senses and skills to focus on each part of a concept and think carefully about how it fits together with the other parts. Let’s look at some examples of how we can do this in the unit.

Strategy for teaching life cycles

Life cycles are an abstract idea that we use to explain the growth and development of living things. Pupils build on prior knowledge about animals and plants with information about how living things adapt to survive.

The modelling activities below require learners to create a 3D representation of a life cycle. We want to engage as many senses as we can, to make the learning experience as concrete as possible, for example by touching, feeling, and manipulating the different foods. They might even eat them!

Pupils explore each part of the cycle, and its adaptations and problem-solve as to how they can best represent each stage as accurately as possible. Whilst building and discussing the model, they must organise their ideas and make them visible. This gives teachers an insight into pupil understanding and any lingering misconceptions.

Strategies for teaching sexual reproduction

Reproduction comes up in several units, so it’s really essential to spend some time explaining it well. It’s the reason for most of the adaptations the pupils learned earlier and is the foundation for learning about asexual reproduction. It’s useful to refer to the Plants year 3 and Animals Including Humans booklets for support.

In this scaffolded activity, we guide conceptual understanding using three strategies to process the information:

1. Comparing

2. Sequencing

3. Creating a 2D Model

Comparing – First, pupils classify the statements as either sexual reproduction in plants, animals or both. They must look at each statement and decide what else it is related to.

Sequencing – Then, they have to sequence the steps in sexual reproduction, justifying the reasons for their choices. They have already decided there is a relationship but now they have to start mapping out the story of the relationship. It’s necessary to identify gaps and address misconceptions during this part of the task BEFORE pupils do the poster.

2D model – This final step sees them recreate the concept, using their own visual representation of the process.

Tip: Turning the statements into a card-sort activity allows pupils to manipulate and construct relationships in a more hands-on way and engages even more senses.

Strategy for teaching asexual reproduction

Next, they have mental space and hopefully a deeper understanding of reproduction to tackle the abstract idea of asexual reproduction. Taking a plant cutting and observing over time, how it grows roots and leaves identical to the parent plant, makes it concrete and understandable.

Tip: Lavender and mint grow well from cuttings.

3. Scientific Vocabulary In Living Things And Their Habitats Year 5

It is important to learn scientific vocabulary as part of science education. It helps us comprehend new scientific concepts and communicate them, clearly. Many subjects pre-teach pupils and help them to decode vocabulary BEFORE beginning a topic. In science, however, vocabulary is often as abstract as the concept pupils are learning about. So, we introduce the concept first, giving relevant examples using images, models, demonstrations , etc. We then layer on the related technical terms, using a range of literacy strategies to strengthen understanding.

Introduce the vocabulary in context


One example from the Key Stage 2 Science resources is shown below. After pupils are taught about the different physical forms seen in the frog life cycle and given a range of examples of adaptations, they are taught the word metamorphosis. In this way, teaching the concept first helps them to understand the word when they encounter it.

Literacy strategy to strengthen understanding –

In science, there are many word families that have the same root. Knowing the origin (entomology) of words, can help pupils group information together and deepen conceptual understanding. In year 3, pupils looked at the origins and structure of the word “metamorphic,” to describe igneous and sedimentary rocks that undergo change. We can remind them of this and use it to help them understand that metamorphosis in amphibian and insect life cycles refers to changes in form, too.

Key Takeaways For Teaching Living Things And Their Habitats Year 5

When teaching Living Things and their habitats Year 5, we can organise the information using the Big Ideas, embed learning through concrete experiences, and teach scientific vocabulary in context.

Download this Big Ideas of Science infographic and use it to help organise your science curriculum.