In this module, you will learn:

  • The seven characteristics of living things.
  • The differences between a plant and an animal

Resources to help you:

  • Textbook: page 37, 38 and 39
  • Notebook: page 19

Characteristics of Living Things

What are the characteristics of living things?



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What is a living thing?

A living thing can be considered as having these seven (7) characteristics.

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A squirrel jumping across wooden plank

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All living things can move from one place to another.

Plants do not move from place to place, but they show growth movement.



Food gives us energy. To get energy from the food, living things need to use a process called respiration. It uses the oxygen that we breathe in to break down food to give us energy.

Note: Respiration is not the same as breathing.

We use the oxygen we breathe for respiration

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Plants also need to undergo respiration

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A girl covering her ears from loud noises

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A mimosa plant responding to touch

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Sensitivity (Responds to stimuli)


Humans have 5 senses: sight (see), hearing, smell, touch (feel) and taste. When there's a change in the environment, we respond to it. E.g. we close our ears when there's a loud sound.

Plants can also respond to stimuli, e.g. the mimosa plant can respond when touched.



Living things can grow. When they grow up from a baby to an adult, they can change the way they look as well as their size. Some even look completely different.

Baby ducklings will grow into ducks

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Plants can grow from seeds

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A swan is a bird that lay eggs

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Seeds are found in fruits

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To make sure they survive, all living things reproduce. Some animal reproduce by giving birth while some others reproduce by laying eggs. Most plants reproduce by producing seeds.



The bodies of living things produce harmful things in their body. Removing these harmful substances by the process of excretion is important to living things. In some animals, they excrete (remove) carbon dioxide produced by respiration through the lungs. Plants do the same, excreting carbon dioxide via their leaves.

We sweat to remove harmful substances when we exercise

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Plants remove the carbon dioxide produced during respiration

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Cows eating grass

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Plants can make their own food using sunlight

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All living things need food and water. Food contains nutrients such as proteins and mineral salts, which are important to help the living thing grow and be healthy. Plants can make their own food by the process of photosynthesis.

Time for practice quiz

Now that you have learnt all the seven characteristics of living things, you can click below to do a practice quiz.

Ready for the next module?

In the next module, we will look at the classification of plants.

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