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Characteristics of organisms

teaching standard spatial concepts

Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water, and food; plants require air, water, nutrients, and light. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met. The world has many different environments, and distinct environments support the life of different types of organisms. 129 C (K-4)

environment, world

Each plant or animal has different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction. For example, humans have distinct body structures for walking, holding, seeing, and talking. 129 C (K-4)

growth, holding, seeing, structure, walking

The behavior of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues (such as hunger) and by external cues (such as a change in the environment). Humans and other organisms have senses that help them detect internal and external cues. 129 C (K-4)

containment, environment, external, internal

Life cycles of organisms

teaching standard spatial concepts

Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life cycle are different for different organisms. 129 C (K-4)

cycle, development

Plants and animals closely resemble their parents. 129 C (K-4)


Many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents of the organism, but other characteristics result from an individual’s interactions with the environment. Inherited characteristics include the color of flowers and the number of limbs of an animal. Other features, such as the ability to ride a bicycle are learned through interactions with the environment and cannot be passed on to the next generation. 129 C (K-4)

environment, interaction

Organisms and environments

teaching standard spatial concepts

All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food. Other animals eat animals that eat the plants. 129 C (K-4)

An organism’s patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism’s environment, including the kinds and numbers of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment. When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce, and others die or move to new locations. 129 C (K-4)

availability, environment, location, motion, movement, pattern, presence, proximity

All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live. Some of these changes are detrimental to the organism or other organisms, whereas others are beneficial. 129 C (K-4)


Humans depend on their natural and constructed environment. Humans change environments in ways that can either be beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms. 129 C (K-4)

construction, environment, movement