Animals are fascinating creatures and kids love to learn about them and their life cycles. They are in awe from the moment of their births and they marvel at the ways they grow and change.
What is a life cycle?
Every animal on Earth has a life cycle - this is the process they go through from when they're born until they die. All animals have different life cycles, and the length of time it takes them to go through each stage varies hugely too. Let's take a look at some examples.
A frog's life cycle has four stages: egg, tadpole, juvenile, and adult. Frogs start their lives as eggs, which are laid in water. Once they hatch, they grow into tadpoles, which have tails and live in water. As they mature, they develop legs and lose their tails, becoming juveniles. Eventually, they turn into adults and leave the water for good.
Honey bees have a very different life cycle to frogs. They have three stages: larva, pupa, and adult. Honey bee larvae hatch from eggs and are fed by the worker bees. After a few weeks, they enter the pupa stage. During this stage, their bodies change and they develop into adults. Once they emerge they take on their roles of worker bees, drones, or queen bees.
Mammals life cycle
The animal life cycle that is probably the most familiar to us is the one we see in mammals. Mammals generally go through four distinct stages in their lives-embryo, neonate, juvenile, and adult.
As human mammals, we can relate to these.
When a woman is pregnant, the baby is in the embryo stage. This is the time from when the egg is fertilized by the male until the baby is born.
When the baby is born, it needs to be cared for by the parents because it is not able to care for itself yet. This is the neonate stage.
As the child becomes more independent and able to care for itself, we refer to this as adolescence or the juvenile stage.
When the child has reached full maturity and can mate and have offspring of its own we refer to this as the adult stage.
Life cycles in the classroom
In many primary classrooms, at some time during the year you will find a life cycle of some animal being studied. At my school, this was usually butterflies, chickens, or salmon. Not only were the students in the class excited to see the changes from eggs through the stages as they became these different animals, other students around the school would often stop by to check out the changes too.
There is no better way to learn than to experience it in person. Learning from videos, books, or shared experiences of others is okay, but seeing that butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, watching that baby chick peck it way out of the egg or releasing fry into the river will imprint that memory for years to come.
If you are interested in studying the life cycles of animals with your class, here are some resources that I have created that might help.
Life cycle of a salmon
Life cycle of a frog
Life cycle of a chicken
Life cycle of a honey bee
Life cycle of a butterfly
Here is a set of templates that may be helpful for gathering information about animal life cycles. It is part of a set of 4 animal research templates.
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.