Lesson plan

DNA and evolution

Look at different animals, discuss the differences and similarities between us and them, then extract the molecule that makes those differences: DNA.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Evolution, Natural Selection (7)
Activities in this lesson
  • live animals to look at, if available
  • photos of the animal skeletons
  • materials for DNA activity

Look at a collection of live animals (we had two reptiles: a bearded dragon and a snake) and name similarities and differences between us and them, in our bodies features and how we behave.

Bearded dragon discussion: we are both animals, we both breathe air, we both have legs. Note: bearded dragon has a hole for an ear. Show skeleton of lizard and us to show how similar to us they are.
Corn snake discussion: both animals. Snakes hear through jaw bone. No legs. Tongue for smelling. Show snake skeleton pictures.

What makes us all look different from them in some ways and different in others? What makes us look like we do?

DNA has units ACGT. With a different order of units the instructions are changed.
Instructions very similar between people, more different between us and a snake, even more different between us and a wood bug [we had just looked at wood bugs too].

Isolate our own DNA, so you can see it.
We won’t be able to see the ACGTs, but can see strands stuck together.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4