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“Young children often have difficulty characterising things as living or non-living. For example, they tend to describe anything that moves as alive. They also do not yet understand the cycle of life (birth, growth, death), and therefore classify as non-living anything that has died”

PBS Learning Media

A 4.54 billion years old planet full of creatures and wonders of all kinds, truly there is no place to be like earth!

Did you know that the earth is home to approximately 8.7 million species of animals, 8 billion people and 3.04 trillion trees? That is fascinating, is it not?

What is even more fascinating is that this only covers one section of the inhabitants of this planet. That is the living beings, or the living things as you might call it. Our planet is also home to non-living things. And to be honest, you cannot put a number on how many non-living things are on this planet. It would be an unimaginable figure! Especially if we take into account every single thing created on earth!

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. The point is the difference between living things and non-living things. And to truly know and understand what those differences are, you first need to know the definition of living and non-living things. So allow us to very humbly enlighten you.

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What Are Living Things?

By definition alone, living things comprise any life form or an organism that possesses the features of life or displays signs of being alive. It is basically a biological living system. One that possesses an individual life form and goes through the cycle of birth and death. That is the broad definition. So if anyone asks you ‘what are living things?’ in the future, you can refer them to this answer. Now you know the living things definition for kids.

What Are Non-Living Things?

Strictly biologically speaking, non-living things encompass any form that is completely devoid of life. This definition brings all inanimate objects or bodies under its purview. Think rocks for example. Basically, all non-living things will completely lack any and every characteristic that makes up a living thing. That should clear up your query of ‘what is a non-living thing’. Other non living things examples include plastic, metal, clothing and cars. Understanding about non-living things is essential to know about living things definition for kids.

Now let us move on to the differences between them.

Do your kids know some more non living things examples?

The Difference Between Living Things and Non-living things

Both living and nonliving things have their own distinct characteristics that set them apart. Knowing these characteristics individually will help you fully grasp the chasm of difference between things.

8 Key characteristics of living things

Living things display certain vital characteristics which have been given below.

  1. All living beings or things are made up of cells. Cells are fundamental microscopic structures that are responsible for conducting various chemical processes that help living organisms thrive. Cells are essential for life. That said, living things can be both single cell organisms or multicellular creatures like us!

  2. Due to their cellular make-up, living things are capable of growing. They experience different stages of development, and mature over time.

  3. Living creatures move, i.e. locomotory motion in their function. Take for example, animals such as dogs and cats. They can move from one place to on their four legs. Birds, on the other hand, can fly, thus denoting movement. Though the same cannot be said for trees and plants, which are also living things.

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  5. Respiration is something all living things experience. It is a chemical reaction wherein cells transform food into energy, which the living organism then uses to perform several activities essential for survival, including excretion of waste from the body.

  6. Living things have the ability to feel. They are sensitive and can experience a wide range of emotions as well as sensations such as vision, touch, taste, hearing and smell. Though the same cannot be said with confidence for plants, many experts are of the opinion plants can feel emotions too, be it stress or pain.

  7. Living things have the ability to reproduce, which means they can produce offspring of their own species. The methods to reproduce can be both sexual (in the case of animals, birds and humans with exceptions) and asexual (applies to plants, trees and single cell organisms with exceptions). The process of reproduction involves the passage of genetic information from the parent to the child or offspring.

  8. They can acquire and absorb nutrients. All living organisms acquire and ingest nutritional resources that help them survive as well as go through the motions of life, which include digestion as well as expulsion of waste material from the body.

  9. Certain living things in particular will possess tissues, organs, limbs and more. This generally applies to all non-plant based living creatures.

Do your kids know about the difference between living and non-living things?

 Characteristics of non-living things – 6 Fundamental Ones

In comparison to living things, the characteristics of non-living things are vastly different. Check them out.

  1. First thing you need to know is that non-living things do not have life which means they are not made up of cells.

  2. Since they do not have cells in their make-up, they do not perform cellular activities such as metabolism, respiration, reproduction and the like.

  3. Certain non-living things may not have specific sizes and may acquire the shape and size of the container they are put in. Water or any other liquid is a great example of that. Even stones or rocks may not always be of the same size as they are subjected to nature’s forces such as erosion. In fact, any change of state in a non-living thing can be attributed to external forces rather than internal processes.

  4. Non-living things do not experience development in stages. They do not grow of their own accord but to the impact of external forces, which can increase or decrease their size as we mentioned before.

  5. Unlike living things, which eventually die, non-living things do not die on account of being lifeless. They do not have a specific lifespan. However, they can be destroyed by external forces.

  6. Non-livings do not need nutrition as they do not have biological processes to carry out which would be essential for their survival.

To make the difference between living things and non-living things even clearer, some examples of the latter include sand, rocks, glass, water, the moon, the sun and basically any object that you use in your daily life that does not have a life of its own.

Living Things and Non-living Things chart: Mapping the difference

Given below is a table that can help you easily distinguish between the two.



Have a life of their own.

Can be defined as lifeless.

Made up of cells.

Not made up of cells.

Capable of reproduction.

Cannot reproduce.

Depend on nutritional resources for survival.

Do not need nutrition to survive.

Go through growth development stages.

Do not experience growth but a change of state due to external factors.

Experience sensory responses to external stimuli.

Are not capable of feeling any sensations or emotions.

Display locomotion, moving from one place to another of their own volition.

Cannot move from one place to another unless external forces are applied.

Experience chemical processes such as metabolism and respiration.

Do not go through any chemical processes whatsoever.

Living things die eventually.

Non-living things are immortal.

Examples: humans, animals, plants, birds etc.

Examples: water, sun, moon, rocks etc.


The world of living things and nonliving things is a fascinating one, and that is the lens we try to ensure our students view it from. In this article, we have provided detailed information on living and non-living things. We hope to have answered your question ‘What are non living things?’

At EuroKids, we constantly try to come up with engaging ways to teach your kids about the world such as the living things and non-living things chart given above. To know more about our teaching methods, drop by at any one of our centres.

Tell us! Are you ready to encourage your children into the world of living and non-living things?


For informative and accurate articles on all things related to your new born-toddler’s development, growth, health and nutrition, follow EuroKids. Blogs and do check out our nationally recognized preschools – EuroKids for the first step in your kid’s educational journey!

About Us:

Eurokids is recognized as India’s most respected early childhood education brand, with over 21 years of experience, and has a presence in 350+ cities & 3 countries. The journey began in 2001 with 2 preschools and since then the group has consistently raised the bar for preschool education through its innovative and mindful curriculum – EUNOIA, which helps children grow holistically in a home-like environment.

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