Sorting Living and Non-Living into Clubs

Part of the "Garden Safari" Collection


Students will sort items into two categories – living and non-living – based on their attributes, and articulate the attributes they used to sort.

Estimated Time

45 Minutes

Setting Required



  • SKL1b. Develop a model to represent how a set of living and non-living objects are sorted into groups based on their attributes.


  1. Provide small groups of student each with a set of the “Living / Once-Living or Non-Living” sorting cards along with the clubhouse posters for each. Ask students to work with their groups to determine how to sort each of the cards into those two groups and explain their answers verbally within their groups as they make decisions.
  2. As a whole group, review the responses and discuss the evidence behind each to ensure correct grouping and sound reasoning.
  3. In small groups, challenge students to come up with qualifications (or “rules”) to be a member of each club by considering what members of each group have in common and what is different about members of the other group. Recognize with students that the clubs are opposites so their qualifications may be opposite as well.
  4. Allow students to explore the outdoor classroom to find other members that would fit into each of the clubs.

“Rules” for the Clubs May Include

Living (or Once-Living)
Eats or makes its own food
Moves (or has moving parts),  Reacts to surroundings
Grows and develops
Produces young, seeds, or eggs

Doesn’t need to eat
Doesn’t breathe
Doesn’t move without being moved, Doesn’t react to surroundings 
Doesn’t grow
Doesn’t make babies