Fun with fingerprints

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Student worthiness

Primary biological content area covered

Students will understand that although we sometimes appear the same on the outside, when we take a closer look we are all very different from one another. This experiment is great to use when discussing the human body in your classroom!



Here is scanned version of the handouts we used for this experiment! Feel free to print them and use them in your classroom!

Description of activity

Lesson plan

Introduction: The teacher(s) will talk to students about how important fingerprints are, and how no ones persons fingerprints are exactly the same! This proves how fingerprints are such an important aspect of each and everyones body! (2-3 min)

Instruction: Teacher(s) will explain to students how to use ink to mark their fingers and place their fingerprints onto the "My Fingerprints!" worksheet. The worksheet should look as follows:

Figure 3: Here is what the handout should look like when a student has stamped their fingers

Once the students have completed this worksheet the teacher(s) will go over the different types of fingerprint classifications. The students will then be able to classify not only their fingerprints but also the fingerprints of their classmates (they will only look at each others index fingers for time purposes)! (8-10 min)

Closing: Students will then decide who has the most "whorly," "archy" and "loopy" fingerprints and graph this data (they will stamp their index finger right on the graph for all to see)! Once the lab is over there will be a visual graph of the entire classes fingerprint classifications! (3-5 min)
If there is extra time feel free to allow your students to create some fingerprint art! They will love it!

Potential pitfalls

Math connections

This activity links great to mathematics because the final product is a graph of the classifications of the entire classes fingerprints! This is a great way for the students to realize which fingerprint type is the most popular! A suggestion about the set up of the graph would be to use different colored dot stickers and have the children fingerprint their index finger right onto the sticker. Then they can place it in the correct column and write their name right next to their fingerprint!

Here are some pictures of the graph we used with a total of 49 students:

Literature connections

There are many childrens books that involve fingerprinting! Here are a few that may be useful to have in your classroom when you're implementing this lesson!

Ed Emberley is a famous author for children's fingerprint books! Here are some books that he has written:

If you would like to buy these books for your children at home or in your classroom just simply click on the title of the book! This will link you right to Amazon!

Connections to educational standards

Vermont Department of Education NECAP Science Grade Expectation Grades 1-2 S1-2:40 Students demonstrate their understanding of Human Heredity by…

Next steps

  1. After completing this activity, each student will have a set of his or her own fingerprints. Using these fingerprints, the students could form groups and create a short mystery story based around one set of fingerprints which would be the "culprit" fingerprints. The culprit should create another set of fingerprints and the group of students should give the culprit fingerprints, along with all of the other sets of fingerprints from the original activity, to another group. Once the material has been traded, the mystery should be solved by taking a close look at all of the fingerprints compared to the culprit's.
  2. Another fun activity is using the students fingerprints as a basis for a drawing or little character. This activity would require the children to pick which fingerprints they would like to use and then reproduce those using the ink pad and a whiet piece of paper. Once they have put their prints on the new page, they can decorate them and turn them into a picture with markers, crayons, or colored pencils.


After working with the students, we realized that many of them already had a pretty good understanding about fingerprints. Students understood that each person is different, and that no fingerprints are identical. However, many children were unaware of the three main types of fingerprints. The students loved stamping their fingerprints on their handout sheets and comparing them to their classmates' prints. Even though students already knew about differences in fingerprints, they were unaware of the unique types. This gave the children a sense of individuality because although they may have had the same type of fingerprint as someone else, theirs was still one of a kind. In our group, we found that there was not enough time for books to be read. Instead of this activity, we showed the children a book about fingerprint art, and they were able to create their own art out of their fingerprints on the handout. Many students got very creative with this exercise. The students especially enjoyed graphing their fingerprints, and had fun comparing and counting the final numbers to see what type was the most popular.

Also, don't forget to put a table cloth down because the ink is very messy!!!

Here are some awesome pictures from our visit to a 2nd grade classroom!

Citations and links

Common mistakes

This section is strictly for editorial suggestions and will not be part of your final product. The most common editorial suggestions I make are listed here.

Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page.
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