Live Organisms

Live Organisms in the K-5 FOSS Curriculum

Studying live organisms is an essential component of the FOSS Life Science modules in grades K-5. The OUSD Science Department centrally supplies live organisms to school sites during their life science rotation so that every child in Oakland has the opportunity to observe living organisms first-hand.

The organisms supplied to classrooms are either raised at the SMART Center or purchased in bulk. By doing so, the the total cost per year for the District is reduced by 90% and individual schools are saved an average of $1200 per year.

Goldfish are the only organism not supplied due to transportation issues. They are readily available from local aquarium stores below (~10/$1).

Live Organisms & the Classroom

Live Organism List by Delivery Date 2018-19.docx


Orders for live organisms are placed by the Science Teacher Leader Teacher or Principal at the start of each school's life science rotation. The live organisms are split into two deliveries based on their usage in the curriculum. Important dates are listed the Important Dates for Live Organisms 2017-18 document

Alternatively, schools can grow their own supplies or use remaining Delta Live Organism Coupons.

Live Organism Order Instructions


Detailed care information can be found in the Teacher Guides or the FOSSweb pages below:

Kindergarten: NGSS FOSS Animals Two by Two (Grade K)

1st Grade: NGSS FOSS Plants and Animals (1st Grade)

2nd Grade: NGSS FOSS Insects and Plants

3rd Grade: NGSS FOSS Structures of Life

4th Grade: NGSS FOSS Environments

5th Grade: NGSS FOSS Living Systems

Click here for an estimated Developmental Timeline for organisms that are time critical.

Returning Organisms

Teachers are encouraged to maintain their organisms long term as classroom animals. Most of them require minimal care and can be raised in basic containers. If you do not want to keep them, they can be reused in other classrooms later in the year. Call the SMART Center at 510-434-2219 to schedule a drop off.

Live organisms should NOT be released into the local environment unless they are being returned to the environment from which they came (e.g. pill bugs collected on the schoolyard.)

Replacement Organisms

It is the responsibility of classroom teachers to care for organisms once they have been delivered. If replacement items are needed, teachers may:

  • share with colleagues
  • source organisms locally (pill bugs, sow bugs, land snails, redworms, and earthworms are readily found in schoolyard gardens or backyard compost piles)
  • purchase replacements (see list of vendors below)

Our Vendors

OUSD uses the following vendors to provide live organisms in the classrooms. Vendors are selected based on cost and health of organisms upon arrival.

Tips & Tricks

Where to Buy Feeder Goldfish and Guppies

Silkworms - How to Feed

Painted Lady Butterflies - Finding Host Plants

Dealing with Ants