Inherited Traits

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I Am Unique

Student worthiness

Tried at least once. It worked really well:)

Primary biological content area covered

Traits of Organisms; Genetics; Inheritance


Teacher Materials:

Student group materials:

Note: students should be able to see the traits charts from his or her station

Individual student materials:


Click to see the full-size handout
Click to see the full-size handout

Description of activity

Learning intention: Students will notice certain things that make each of them unique. They will notice traits including eye color, hair color, earlobes, hair line/shape, tongue rolling, and handedness.

Lesson plan

Start with a shared reading – Fox, Mem (1997). Whoever You Are. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Inc.; circle on carpet- stay in group until guided section.

First the teacher must provide the learning intention for the day, state the following to the students:“Today we are going to notice certain things (traits) that make each of us unique. We will investigate our eye color, hair shape, earlobes, hair line, tongues and our handedness.” Model the learning intention: Identify the 6 traits on chart paper.(refer to the traits charts pictures) Check vocabulary: traits;unique;handedness Use the interactive game- "4 corners" as described below, to model the individual differences with the student Teachers: Choose two or more until you are sure they understand the task/concept:

Then have students sort themselves into appropriate sections of the room according to :

2 corners – hair line

When the students are in their appropriate 'corners' have the whole class count how many are in that group and record that number on the appropriate trait chart.It's important that these charts are spread out. The charts can act as stations for the different groups of students.

Lastly have the students do the “My New Friend” handout. The teacher will choose partners for this task. They are to identify and record the 6 traits of their partner. Then, they place their partner’s name under the appropriate column on the traits charts using labels or marking strategy of your choice.

Notice: Here's another way to do this project!!!

In order to do this, you need paper about the length of the students, markers and a pencil. If paper of that size is not available you can take your students outside and use a pavement surface and draw with chalk.(weather permitting)

Pictures of the Activities

Potential pitfalls

Math connections

Students are using a t-chart graphing method. These t-charts can easily transition into a math lesson on bar graphs or graphing in general.(see bar graph picture)

Literature connections

The book Whoever you Are, by Mem Fox and illustrated by Leslie Staub, is a fabulous shared reading exercise. It shows the students that no matter how different we may be as people or as a culture that our feelings are still the same.

Connections to educational standards

Vermont Standards and Grade Level Expectations

VT Standard: Scientific Inquiry

Next steps

This activity could lend itself, very easily, to the study of other cultures. A teacher could also send home a 'traits' scavenger hunt, so students can interact with their parents and learn about shared traits with their parents. This could lead into a small study of how we inherit traits from our parents. Again, these charts can be used to create a math lesson around graphing. Small children are very interested in themselves so graphing the hair color makeup of the class and comparing the eyecolor makeup of the class could be a very beneficial experience.


Lindsay: Overall, I feel as though this was a great lesson. The students enjoyed learning about themselves, as well as drawing their traits on paper. I also think it is a useful lesson to teachers since it provides great literature and math connections. I would definitely recommend this activity to teachers teaching inherited traits.

Celia: This program was very well received by both teachers and students alike. The students were very excited to record their own data and learn about others in their group. We were surprised to find that almost all of the students in this class could curl their tongues. The tracing of each others bodies was incredibly amusing, they seemed to enjoy being able use their artistic abilities. Starting the activity with the book by Mem Fox helped settle the students and allowed them to focus on the task at hand. I truly enjoyed watching these students learn and get excited about science.

Montana: I really enjoyed this teaching idea once students and wiser teachers were present. I got a true kick out of how well the students followed directions and then incorporated their own little tidbits of humor and way of observing. The teacher present was very enthusiatic about this lesson and seemed the love the literature, math, art, and obvious science connections. The students never strayed from the activity and were very focused and interested. I think the visual learning we decided to incorporate was a huge advantage and really allowed the children to work independently with their partner. I think it went so very smooth and reactions were very positive in our favor. I am excited to use this science lesson in the future in my own classroom.

Citations and links this link appears broken] This is where we got our template for our lesson plan. click on professional development and you can download the template. It really helps organize your thoughts and the Standards you need to achieve.

Create a book