Full Year Life Science Curriculum for Middle School

Are you ready to crush this school year? Is creating lesson plans just too much on top of teaching on top of grading on top of classroom management on top of *ahem* living your life? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’ve come to the right place. I’m about to simplify your life with a full year middle school life science science curriculum bundle! This life-saving collection of resources is ready to use for in person, hybrid, or virtual teaching and, best of all, requires NO PREP!

In this complete 36 week course, your middle school students will investigate the big idea: What does it mean to be alive? 

In short, all living things: 

  • Made of Cells
  • Having DNA
  • Use Energy
  • Respond to Stimuli
  • Grow
  • Reproduce
  • Adapt
  • Take in Nutrients
  • Excrete Waste
  • Maintain Homeostasis

Through the units included in this middle school science curriculum, you and your students will dive deeply into each of life’s functions by investigating key biology concepts and develop a sense of wonder for the natural world while critically thinking about the interactions of species and their environment. 

If you have questions at any point moving forward, please email me at laneyleeteaches@gmail.com. I am here to support you 365 days a year!

life science pacing guide middle school

What’s included with this Life Science Course?

  • FREE pacing guide
  • Google Slides presentations
  • Worksheets in both print and digital formats
  • Guided Reading resources with full-color diagrams in both print and digital formats that more or less fulfill the need for a free textbook
  • Assessment in both print and digital formats
  • A culminating project for each unit (research projects, hands on, extensions, etc.)
  • Labs
  • Tons of helpful links with phenomena, virtual labs, and interesting videos
  • Opportunities for hands-on learning experiences
  • Real-world connections
  • Essential Questions

How does this curriculum align with the Next Generation Science Standards?

If you’re familiar with NGSS, you may know that the life science standards are not necessarily grouped in a specific grade level, but are spaced out over middle school as a whole. For that reason, this curriculum is not specifically recommended for one grade level and could be carried out at any point in middle school (or even early high school). If your school uses an integrated science approach, you could even take the units included in this curriculum and split them across several grade levels. It depends on your school and what kinds of prior knowledge your students are coming to you with.

Additionally, some of the topics covered are typically reserved for high school science courses, but I have been successfully teaching them to 7th graders for the past decade. I wouldn’t include them if the students didn’t find them so fun and interesting.

Hopefully you will find that all the NGSS life science topics are covered adequately as are the related disciplinary core ideas. Many of the links included should give your students the sense of phenomena that is essential to the successful implementation of NGSS.

Included Units:

life science pacing guide middle school

Unit 1: Human Body

Performance Expectations:

  • MS-LS1-3
  • MS-LS1-8
  • HS-LS1-2

In this short unit, your students will investigate the following life functions from a macro scale: All living things respond to stimuli, take in nutrients, excrete wastes, and maintain homeostasis.

Using the included resource, your students will get a quick introduction to human anatomy as they investigate the human body systems before zooming into the basis of all structures of organisms: cells. Some extensions for this unit are included in the case that you may wish to go deeper into these topics.

Unit 2: Cells

Performance Expectations:

  • MS-LS1-1
  • MS-LS1-2
  • MS-LS1-6
  • MS-LS1-7
  • HS-LS1-4
  • HS-LS1-5
  • HS-LS1-7

Next, dive into the idea that all living things are made of cells.

In this unit, you’ll cover the following key concepts: cell theory, prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic cells, and (of course) organelles! There is also a couple weeks included for photosynthesis, respiration, and mitosis. This unit is heavy on vocabulary words, but plenty of review activities are included to make sure your students are confident with the material. Although the content may feel a bit dry, many of the topics covered in this unit will be useful for later units on DNA and reproduction.

You can end the unit with a review and test, or use the famous Cell Model Project instead.

Unit 3: Reproduction & Heredity

Performance Expectations:

  • MS-LS1-4
  • MS-LS1-5
  • MS-LS3-1
  • MS-LS3-2
  • HS-LS3-1
  • HS-LS3-2
  • HS-LS3-3

First, we’ll start with the production of gametes, or sex cells, with meiosis. Meiosis is a pretty natural extension of mitosis, with most of the steps being the same, just repeated twice. The ultimate goal here, though, is to end up with four cells that only have half the original number of chromosomes.

The concepts of meiosis will build a foundation which will help your students understand both sexual reproduction, genetic variation, and the ideas behind inheritance and heredity. 

Don’t forget to make connections back to the prior unit on prokaryotes from earlier in the year and to talk about the idea that antibiotics work by capitalizing on the fact that bacteria are clones, and are, therefore, susceptible to the same dangers. These real world connections are essential to building the critical thinking skills we want to develop in our young scientists! You can toss in a little foreshadowing to the concept of mutations here, too as students may begin to ask and make connections on their own. Species that reproduce asexually can still adapt and evolve, but it will be based on mutations. 

After students have a solid base in meiosis and sexual and asexual reproduction, it’s time to introduce genetics and Punnett squares! This one is always a crowd favorite.

Teaching Punnett Squares:

I typically teach Punnett squares in a very student paced fashion. I begin by introducing monohybrid crosses to the whole class together. It’s one of my favorite topics to teach, and I have absolute confidence that every student will be able to solve monohybrid problems. 

Once the basics of vocabulary and how to solve problems have been introduced, I normally let the students go at their own pace from there to cover the additional . Some kids pick it up super fast, while others need some reteaching and more practice. 

P.S. Don’t forget to make connections to meiosis and sexual reproduction these weeks! Lots of chances to talk about gametes and genetic variety! 

Unit 4: DNA

Performance expectations:

  • HS-LS1-1

In this unit we’re diving into all living things have DNA.

First, you’ll simply introduce DNA with the DNA Extraction Lab. What is DNA? What does it do? Your students should already have a general idea that DNA is located in the nucleus of the cell and that it directs cell function, but how does it do that? 

Then, dive into DNA replication and protein synthesis. Finally, we’ll combine our knowledge of human body systems with genetic mutations to go deeper into genetic disorders. It’s important for students to understand the difference between a virus, a bacterial infection, and a genuine genetic disorder. I find that my students have a lot of misconceptions when it comes to understanding what it really means to be sick. 

To extend, we’ll look at cancer and the possibility of using gene editing to snip unwanted DNA from our genomes.

Unit 5: Evolution

Performance Expectations:

  • MS-LS4-1
  • MS-LS4-2
  • MS-LS4-3
  • MS-LS4-4
  • MS-LS4-5
  • MS-LS4-6
  • MS-ESS1-4
  • HS-LS4-1
  • HS-LS4-2

Throughout this unit, we’ll be looking at the idea that all living things adapt.

First of all, let me say that I try to teach this unit from a “construct an argument” point of view. I present the evidence, and then I allow my students to draw their own conclusions. For that reason, you’ll notice that there is no end of unit test for this unit. Instead, I’d focus on doing some CERs to see how your students build a case with the evidence that they observe. 

I really enjoy beginning this unit by teaching my students about Charles Darwin and his discoveries because I feel like he was a pretty normal guy who just loved the natural world. Hopefully some of our students can see themselves in him! Through Darwin’s journey, we’ll cover natural selection. Next we’ll look more closely at different adaptations of species and consider the evolutionary pressures that developed these characteristics. Finally, we’ll look at the how the fossil record and similar anatomies helped Darwin (and scientists today) provide evidence for the big ideas behind the Theory of Evolution.

If you have time, discuss artificial selection too. What if nature isn’t the factor putting the pressure on a species in favor of certain traits? Are there any potential downsides to this? Consider the possibility that some negative health trait may exist simultaneously with the traits humans are selecting for, resulting in the accidental spread of less than adaptive traits. 

Last, the Evolution Virtual Lab makes an excellent ending to this unit. In it, students will examine fossils of stickleback fish to see how modern fish differ from those in the past. I absolutely love this lab, and I hope that you’ll find the time in your year to try it with the students! Using this activity, students will have the opportunity to be scientists themselves. 

Unit 6: Ecology

Performance Expectations:

  • MS-LS2-1
  • MS-LS2-2
  • MS-LS2-4
  • MS-LS2-3
  • MS-LS2-5
  • HS-LS2-1
  • HS-LS2-2
  • HS-LS2-7

Throughout this unit, we’ll look at all the ways that species depend on one another and the natural resources in their environment for survival. 

First, the primary focus is to introduce key vocabulary and to take a look at different ecosystems (biomes). Next, we’ll look at the way energy moves through the ecosystem within food chains and food webs as well with their physical environment with the abiotic cycles: carbon cycle, water cycle, and nitrogen cycle.

Last, I believe the best way to end a year of biology is to discuss the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem maintenance, so we’ll finish off this unit (and the year) with biodiversity and ecosystem maintenance.

There are a few options for fun projects to end this unit with, that I’m certain you and your students will enjoy!

I’m ready to simplify my life!

I was hoping you’d say that! Click the links below to download everything you need for a successful year:

Full Year Life Science Curriculum for Middle School

FREE Full Year Life Science Pacing Guide for Middle School


This middle school life science curriculum leaves about 2 weeks (give or take) that you can fill in any way you like. If you do all of the included activities and projects, you may not end up having two weeks to spare, but I think it’s important to not mandate every second of every class period, and to leave some space to follow the rabbit holes that your students find the most interesting. 

That beings said, if you’re stuck for ideas, some suggestions I’d make are that you could: 

  • Do more on body systems. This curriculum just touches on body systems, but you could split students into groups and have them each do a project on a different system and present it to the class. 
  • Scientific Method Unit – Go deeper into the scientific method, bias, experimental error. This unit includes the Science Fair Project, which is always a classic! 
  • Engineering Unit – Look at how science and technology are connected with this fun unit! It includes lots of hands-on activities and projects that will get your students thinking like an engineer.

Unsure about purchasing a complete life science curriculum?

Let me try to convince you that the course I’m offering is worth your hard earned cash. (Or you can always apply for reimbursement through your school.)

I work hard so you don’t have to. Finding useful resources for your lesson is a lot of work. Making them is even more work. Whenever I can, I always trade money for time. A couple dollars to reimburse another classroom teacher for their efforts in creating valuable resources is seen as a fair trade according to thousands of positive reviews.

My resources are high quality. Most of my resources come in both PDF and digital format to support you in face to face, virtual, or hybrid learning models. Having multiple representations is always useful for differentiation. My resources also include an easy to use answer key and high quality image, graphics, and explanations where needed.

All of my resources are guaranteed. That means that if you’re unhappy with your purchase, I will fully refund you. My email is listed on the last page of every resource. All you have to do is send me a quick note about your experience and I can resolve the issue or refund you.

Still unsure? Remember that you can download the pacing guide for free!

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