All living things

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By John Davisteacher and freelance writer

Introduce children to the essential requirements that plants and animals need in order to survive

All living things, usually known as organisms, have basic needs. In many cases the needs of both animals and plants are the same, but there are also fundamental differences. Both groups, for example, need food, air, water and some form of shelter or protection. On the other hand, an important distinction is that while plants use sunlight to make their own food, animals consume energy-rich food that is already available.

It is essential that through classroom activities, children are able not only to observe and describe the characteristics of plants and animals, but can also make comparisons between varieties of the two groups. In the process, they should become more aware of the diversity of life and develop positive attitudes towards all living things and the environments in which they are found.

Essential facts

  • The biggest animal in the world, the Blue Whale, can weigh more than 135 tonnes and eat two tonnes of microscopic algae every day.
  • In Canada, millions of trees are harvested for timber. Much of it is used to make paper from wood pulp. The Canadians know that the trees absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide created by people, so for every tree they cut down they plant more – some one thousand million every year. That’s seven seedlings every second.
  • Arctic Terns migrate from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year. It is a round trip of almost 40,000 kilometres.
  • Plants of the pansy family have a special part of their seed that ants like to eat. The ants take them away, eat their share and then plant the rest of the seed in a new growing spot.
  • Some cave-dwelling fish, deep under the sea, are so adapted to their permanently dark environment that they no longer have eyes.
  • The Venus Flytrap, a carnivorous plant, has been known to catch and eat small frogs.
  • Electric eels that live in South America can give a shock of more than 500 volts from their muscles to stun their prey. The fish is not a real eel at all, but a member of the carp group.
  • The Giant Sequoia, a native of California, is the world’s largest tree. The oldest know Giant Sequoia was over 3000 years old, and the largest was nearly 90 metres high.
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