How to Teach Life Cycles In Science Class

Photo a Striped Albatross butterfly gathering pollen and nectar from a flower, on a green blurry background to illustrate how to teach life cycles in science class

If you’re wondering how to teach life cycles in science class, it’s essential to start by emphasizing the importance of understanding the cycles of life and nature. In these cycles lies a deep meaning of who we are as a species, as a society, and as individuals.

Teaching life cycles is like no other science lesson. In the cycles of life and nature lie a deep meaning of who we are as a species, as a society and also as a person. Understanding life cycles is a fantastic process that lead us to knowing who we are as human beings, as animals, as tiny yet beautiful elements of the Earth and the universe.

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.


It is true that, since the Industrial Revolution and the correlated urbanization, humans are more and more disconnected with nature. For instance, 48% of US citizens were farmers in 1860 compared to 0.68% today. More than half of the world population lives in urban areas whereas this number was around 10% in 1800. That is why we have to find new ways to teach our children the importance of seasons, water, plants and animals.

Embark on a journey to teach life cycles in science class and inspire a sense of wonder in your students. As we become more urbanized, reconnecting our children to nature is crucial. In this article, we’ll explore engaging methods to introduce essential life cycles, fostering an understanding and appreciation of the world around them.

The Water Cycle

Photo of a wild forest and a lake or a river to illustrate the water cycle
Photo by Paul G from Pexels

We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

What does every form of life need to stay alive? Food (energy), air (gasses), shelter and of course, water. Life forms on Earth actually depend on six essential elements (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus) and liquid water. That is why it is important to understand how this miraculous cycle works.

First, you can start by making your pupils observe a water cycle worksheet. A visual activity will help them grasp the difficult notions of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. They will find activities to name, remember, and explain these stages and also a blank space where they can draw their own version of the water cycle.

One of the best ways to teach these concepts is to make experiments. For each one of the stages, you can design a hands-on activity, from the simplest to the most complex ones. For example, you can show evaporation with a cup of water that you fill with hot water to which you add food coloring. You put a coffee filter on top of the cup and the vapor will appear on the white coffee filter.

You can also recreate the water cycle only with a little bit of water that you put in a Ziplock bag. Tape it to a window and let your pupils observe it for a few days. They will observe evaporation and condensation. They can also draw the water cycle elements on the bag with markers (sun, clouds, rain, etc.), the water at the bottom being the ocean.

Animal Life Cycles

Photo of a butterfly on a green frog's head to illustrate animal life cycle
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

Maya Angelou

All animal life cycles are fascinating. Children often wonder how a little egg can become a fish, a chicken, a huge ostrich or a 2,000-pound leatherback sea turtle. They are also always surprised when they discover that a strange pupa turns into a caterpillar and then a wonderful butterfly.

You can offer great visual aid to your children (posters and worksheets) to understand the different kinds of animal life cycles: fish, amphibians such as the frog and the turtle, insects such as the butterfly or birds such as the chicken.

For children to understand how animals are born and grow, the best way is for them to see these transformations with their own eyes. So, regular field trips to a farm or other natural places with animals can help them observe the constant changes. Another option is to have a classroom pet for everyone to observe and take care of. Pupils can take pictures and have a register of the growing of a specific animal. They can also relate and compare it to their own life cycle, the one of humans with their babies, children, teenagers, adults, pregnant women, and senior citizens.

You can also play a game with different pictures where children have to put back in order the stages, or show them a picture and have them guess which animal is represented and which stage goes before and after this one.

Plant Life Cycle

Close-up photo of a young green leafed plant with a brown background to illustrate the plant life cycle concept
Photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels

If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. 
No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.

Albert Einstein

A little seed germinates, grows, becomes a seedling and then an adult plant that is pollinated by a bee, another animal or the wind, and then another seed appears and the plant life cycle goes on.

A favorite activity is of course for the children to plant seeds and observe the changes day after day. They can make reports, take pictures and even create an accelerated video with all the pictures to see how their plant has developed. You can do this in jars, in a garden or a flower pot. Another idea is to grab organic kitchen scraps and regrow them to show that not every plant needs a seed.


Photo of an amazing landscape of mountains with snow and a green grassland with flowers to illustrate the seasons a part of life cycles
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

There is beauty to be found in the changing of the earth’s seasons, and an inner grace in honoring the cycles of life.

Jack Kornfield

The animal and plant cycles are closely related to the changes of seasons and weather. From kindergarten, kids have to recognize the 4 seasons and observe the changes in nature.

A fantastic activity is to visit a specific natural place and research everything that can be seen in every season: plants, animals and so on. You can bring back a few elements of what you find in every season: grass, leaves, seeds, twigs… You can also register temperatures and observe the weather and make a report on how the weather affects the changes in nature.

Compost Life Cycle

Image of vegetables for compost in a wood box, illustrating the compost life cycle process for teaching sustainability in science class
Photo by Eva Bronzini from Pexels

The ground’s generosity takes in our compost and grows beauty!
Try to be more like the ground.


How can children help nature in the process of soil regeneration and understand the compost life cycle? To see what is really happening during this process, you can create a compost project if you have a garden. If not, you can still do it by working in cooperation with a farm.

However, children can also observe the decomposition process in a simple wide-mouth glass jar. Fill it with soil, pieces of old newspaper, kitchen scraps and fallen leaves or grass. Repeat until you fill up the jar. Add a cup of rainwater that you gathered before. Put a lid with holes for oxygen and then place it next to a window. Then, kids can see the changes in level (they can mark the level with a marker) and how everything turns into a rich soil!

In conclusion, the ability to “Teach Life Cycles In Science Class” is an essential part of fostering an understanding and appreciation for the natural world in our students. By engaging them in hands-on activities, games, and projects, we can make learning about life cycles a fun and captivating experience. As a result, we are not only providing our children with valuable scientific knowledge but also nurturing their sense of responsibility towards the environment and the delicate balance of life on Earth. By incorporating these strategies and ideas into your science lessons, you are giving your students the opportunity to develop a lifelong connection with nature, creating future generations that are more in tune with the cycles of life that govern our planet.


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