Generations of Traits

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SWBAT model the passing of genetic traits form parents to offspring through three generations.

Big Idea

Traits are observable characteristics that are passed down from parent to child.


1 minutes

This lesson is part of a unit that addresses the following Life Science Disciplinary Core Idea:  

LS3 - Heredity:  Inheritance and variations

The performance expectations in LS3 help students formulate an answer to the question, "How do living organisms pass traits from one generation to the next?"

In this lesson students use a model to describe how sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic variation..  This lesson will give students the foundational knowledge to be able to successfully complete the following performance expectation and cross cutting concept:

  • MS-LS3-2. Develop and use a model to describe why asexual reproduction results in offspring with identical genetic information and sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic variation. 
  • Cause and Effect:  Caused and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural systems.


10 minutes

To engage students in lesson I have students play a game of Traits Bingo

Activity Overview

Participants cross off or color bingo squares in response to questions about their traits.


Copies of participant pages - Traits Bingo


Pencil or Crayon

PTC paper 

Activity Instructions

  • Distribute a Bingo card to each participant and instruct them not to mark any squares unless told to do so.

  • Read the Bingo questions (page 3) one by one
    (in order or randomly),
    instructing participants
    to mark the squares with an X or color them in.

  • Continue to read Bingo questions (page 3) until a participant obtains a bingo. 


25 minutes

In this section of students complete a hands-on activity where they track and record the passage of colored candy through three generations of gingerbread people. Students observe that traits are passed from parents to offspring, and that siblings each receive a different combination of traits from their parents. (SP2 - Developing and Using Models)

Learning Objectives

  1. Traits are observable characteristics that are passed down from parent tho child.
  2. An individual will have many traits they share in common with others, and more so with siblings and parents.
  3. An individual's overall combination of traits makes them unique.
  4. An equal number of traits are passed on from each parent.


     1.Copies of student pages 

     2.Colored candy (four different colors



Actiivity Instructions

  • Begin class by revisiting what was learned in the previous two lessons: Heredity and Inventory of Traits, Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree. Students should have background knowledge that due to inheritance we all have inherited genetic traits from our parents and prior generations.  

  • Point out to student that even though you may resemble on family member over another, we are all unique individuals with a unique combination of traits.

  • Divide students into groups of 3 or 4. Give each group a set of materials. Instruct students to carry out the activity following the instructions on Generations Instructions.

  • Make sure you tell students to close their eyes as they are are drawing out candy since this will simulate the real life random event.


Teacher Note:  You may need to project Generations Worksheet in class and model the activity for students.

Possible Discussion Points

  • Explain the reason why you still share traits with your ancestors?  

  • Even though you and your siblings come from the same parents, explain the reason why you are a unique individual?


10 minutes

in this section of lesson students read a text on Mendelian Genetics from ck12.  

Topics Covered

1.  Mendels Work

2.  Genotype and Phenotype

3.  Interactive Demo explaining Mendelian Genetics

Prior to reading text students complete Mendels Laws and Genetics PreRead


To stimulate the critical thinking skills required to assess the validity of statements about the key concept using an agree/disagree table.

After completing the PreRead, students interact with text through Writing in the Margins.

Writing in the margins engages readers in the reading task and allows them to document their thinking while reading. Both writing in the margins and drawing in the margins engages students in actively thinking about the texts they read. The power of this strategy is not the actual act of writing and drawing in the margins; instead, it is the thinking processes that students must undergo in order to produce such ideas. 

The specific Writing in the Margin strategy that students use is Summarize:


Briefly summarize paragraphs or sections of a text. Summarizing is a good way to keep track of essential information while condensing lengthier passages.

Summaries will...

  • state what the paragraph is about

  • describe what the author is doing

  • account for key terms and/or ideas.


10 minutes

In this section of lesson students elaborate on what they have learned by reading Inheritance of traits from ReadWorks.  

Topics Covered in Text

  1. Traits
  2. Physical vs Personality traits
  3. Inherited vs Learned traits

Students use Marking the Text to interact with text.

1.  Number the Paragraphs

2.  Circle Key Terms

3.  Underline author's claims and other information relevant to the reading purpose.

Students complete text-dependent questions after reading article. (RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.)

The objective of this article is to compare and contrast inherited vs learned traits.  This can be used later when discussing nature vs. nurture in terms of evolution.


5 minutes

In this section of lesson students complete an Exit Slip where they are required to write an evidence based argument explaining inheritance of genetic traits through generations. (SP7 - Engaging in Argument from Evidence/W.7.1 - Write arguments focused on discipline content)