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Every living thing on Earth goes through a life cycle. As any organism grows, it changes. In some organisms, the stages look very different; a flowering plant changes from a tiny seed into a plant, for example. Tadpoles look very different from an adult frog.

In mammals (such as humans), the young look like a smaller version of their parents.

Teach your children about the Life Cycles using our handy topic guide!

Choose a section:
Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas

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Resources

The Life Cycles Mini Pack

Life Cycles Knowledge Organiser

Members of Teaching Packs can download a comprehensive knowledge organiser to accompany this topic. It includes key information that your children can use for reference and research, along with a helpful glossary and examples of plant and animal life cycles.

Not a member yet? Join us today!

Life Cycles Facts

  • Every animal and plant has a life cycle; that is a number of different stages they go through during their lifetime.
  • The mayfly has the shortest life cycle of any animal. In some species the mayfly only lives for a few minutes in their adult form.
  • Metamorphosis is the process by which some animals change from one form to another. These forms can look very different indeed. For example, butterflies start life as an egg, then hatch out into a caterpillar, before they form a chrysalis and finally emerge as a butterfly.
  • The male part of a flower is the stamen, and the female part is the pistil.
  • Pollinators, such as bees and other insects, carry pollen from one flower to another, so that the plants can reproduce.

Videos

The Life Cycle of Plants

This video from BBC Bitesize gives a brief introduction to plant life cycles.

Running time: 1:43

Plant Life Cycle of a Bean Seed

This super timelapse video shows a bean seed sprouting.

Running time: 0:38

The Tiny Seed

This video features a reading of The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle that younger children will enjoy.

Running time: 9:58

Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly

The complete life cycle of the Monarch butterfly from a tiny caterpillar hatching from an egg, through metamorphosis, to glorious adult butterfly.

Running time: 4:32

Books

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle’s world-famous story, has become the most read children’s book in Britain.

Tadpole's Promise

A tadpole falls in love with a caterpillar. But what happens to them as the seasons pass and they both mature?

Because of an Acorn

Because of an acorn, a tree grows, a bird nests, a seed becomes a flower. Enchanting die-cuts illustrate the vital connections between the layers of an ecosystem in this magical picture book.

Ten Seeds

Follow nature’s wonderful cycle in this engaging counting book with a difference!

Ocean Life Cycles

In Life Cycles: Ocean, discover which creatures are at the top and bottom of three ocean food chains, and learn what happens at each stage of their life cycle.

Lifecycles: Egg to Chicken

Discover the amazing stages of different life cycles and learn how different species are born, grow up and reproduce with this stunning series.

The Amazing Life Cycle of Plants

Follow the journey of a young boy and girl as they find out about how plants grow. This beautifully illustrated picture book explains why insects are important to plants, how seeds travel and why plants are important to us all.

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