Year 1

Science Support Materials

Science snapshot: Plants or Animals?

Science/Science Understanding/Biological sciences and Science as a Human Endeavour/Nature and development of science

Content Description Relevant aspects of the Achievement Standards

Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017)

Science involves asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events (ACSHE021)

Students describe objects and events that they encounter in their everyday lives.
They share their observations with others.

Nature of the assessment

Teacher-devised task and teacher observation

Purpose of the assessment

To check students' correct conceptualisation of the terms 'plants' and 'animals'

Stage in the teaching sequence

Start of a lesson to check prior understanding.

Assessment task

The teacher divided the students into groups. She gave each group a set of pictures that included pictures of small plants, flowers, vegetables, fruit, trees, animals, children and adults. The students were asked to sort the pictures into two groups, plants and animals. Because she was checking for misunderstandings she gave the additional instruction that if they thought a picture did not belong to either group they could put it on one side. 


The teacher observed the discussion and noted the pictures that were put to the side. As a result of this activity she noted that some students didn’t think trees were plants because they thought plants are always small; some didn’t think vegetables and fruit were plants because they were not green and a number of students didn’t think people should be classed as animals.

The task also allowed the teacher to observe students in relation to aspects of the General Capabilities and in particular she focussed on Listening, an aspect of Literacy. She looked for evidence that students could understand spoken instructions, listen to identify key information and attend to others’ ideas.

Using the information

The teacher changed her lesson and focused on teaching students the features of plants. She led a question-and-answer session to make sure all students knew that flowers, vegetables, fruit and trees are plants, and why they are classed as plants. She also changed her plan for the next lesson to focus on teaching the students about the features of animals. She then re-ran the card activity to see if all students could classify animals and plants correctly.

Overview of research 

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