will look at how many of our traits or characteristics
are inherited. The students will identify genetic or
inherited traits in the classroom. Then they will go
home and see if their family members have the same traits.
for Grade Level: K-3 (May be adapted for older students.)
between inherited and acquired characteristics.
that variations exist among humans.
that some traits are more common than others.
- Plan and
conduct a simple investigation.
Personal Characteristics, things about you such as eye-color,
skin color and blood-type that are special.
Traits passed down from your parents. (Traits that you were
Traits such as pierced ears, hair length, scars, etc.
that you were not born with.
One of a kind.
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- Previously collected
intergenerational photographs of students family members.
Look around our group. Is anyone else here just like you?
Every person you know, or ever will know, is unique. No two
people are just alike (even identical twins). However, you
may have been told that you "look just like your Mom"
or that you "have your grandfather's nose." What
do you think people mean when they say things like this?
Many of our traits
or characteristics are "inherited" or passed down
to us from our parents. You may have some traits like your
mother, some like your father and some like both your mother
such as the length of your hair, pierced ears, or scars are
not passed down to us from our parents. These traits are "acquired"
because you were not born with them.
- Prior to this
activity students will have collected photographs of different
members of their family with the help of their parents.
Parents should be instructed to send photographs of the
child, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins,
great-grandparents, etc. Your request for photos should
be accompanied by a brief explanation of the planned activity
to enable parents to select photos that clearly demonstrate
- Instruct students
to line up the photos on their desks and search for similarities.
Suggest that students begin by observing one part of their
face, such as their eyes, and see if any of the other pictures
have eyes like theirs.
- Share and discuss
findings with the group. Young children may state that they
share pierced ears, long hair, or similar characteristics
with a family member. Statements such as these should be
used as an opportunity to discuss the difference between
inherited (born with) and acquired (not born with) traits.
are going to identify some of our genetic or inherited traits.
Then you will go home and see if your family members have
the same traits. If you have a trait, then usually at least
one of your parents will, too.
- Give students
the Picture Chart handout.
Review traits we are looking for, how to decide if you have
the trait and how to document it on the Family
- Let students
complete the "You" column on the Family Traits
- Have students
share which inherited traits they may have on the Family
Traits Worksheet with the class.
- Make a class
graph showing how many students have each trait on the Family
Traits Worksheet. Lead the students into discussion regarding
the data shown by the graph. Are some inherited traits more
common than others?
- Have the students
take the Family Traits Worksheet and accompanying Sample
Parent Letter home so they can see and document their
family members' traits.
- Let each student
share which traits they have and which traits their family
members have, and state any of the traits they shared. Discuss
how these traits are concepts of genetics and inherited
to Teacher Guide Main Page
National Science Education Standards - Standard A - Science
as Inquiry, Standard C - Life Science, Standard F - Science
in Personal and Social Perspectives