Previous studies of children’s understanding of the life concept have focused on their views of the life status of animals and nonliving objects. Little attention has been given to the comparison of plants and animals. We studied Israeli 6- to 15-year-olds in an effort to enhance understanding of this issue. The roughly 300 children in the study were asked to classify animals, plants and nonliving things according to whether they were living and according to whether they possessed the following attributes: growth, reproduction, feeding, and breathing. The children were also asked to explain their judgments. The percentage of children who classified all objects correctly increased from 15 % among the youngest children to 50% among the oldest. The percentage of children who classified all objects except plants correctly ranged between 22 and 50%, without a clear developmental trend. The remaining children misclassified both some nonliving things and plants. The most common error regarding plants was to classify them as nonliving things. However, a second type of error was also common: About 25% children classified plants in a third category of neither living nor nonliving things. These results are discussed in relation to both linguistic and cultural factors. In particular, the way in which the relation between the Hebrew terms for animals and living things may discourage children from also viewing plants as living things is examined.

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