Lesson plan

Evolution by natural selection

A running game shows the survival of a population depends on what it eats and what eats it. A camouflage challenge demonstrates how camouflage is a beneficial adaptation in both prey and predators. A relay race game shows how different bird beaks are adapted for carrying different foods. A lego-building activity shows how mutations result in a slow change in how an animal looks.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Biology: Evolution, Natural Selection (7)

Materials in the activities


Evolution is the gradual change in how living things look and behave as the generations cycle.
If a living thing has a feature, or "adaptation" that helps it survive, it might live long enough to have babies, and the babies will inherit this adaptation.

Adaptive changes happen through changes in DNA.
(DNA is in every cell. It is translated into proteins, which build the body, or regulate body processes.)
Tiny random changes in DNA (called mutations) sometimes change how a living thing looks or behaves.
If a mutation results in an adaptation that is beneficial to the living thing, the living thing will live longer and have more babies. Those babies will inherit those same DNA mutations.

To model how random DNA changes affect how an animal looks.
Do the lego evolution activity.

The camouflage activity (inside or outdoors) looks at one kind of adaptation (camouflage) which helps animals survive, whether they are a predator or prey animal.
Look at photos of ptarmigan birds in summer and winter - they grow feathers with different colours in different seasons, for best camouflage.

Natural selection game (outdoors or in large gym space) shows how populations shift as animals eat each other. (Suitable for all grades except Ks.)

Show how adaptations allow animals to use different food sources: bird beaks eating different food types. Fun as a relay race outdoors/in a gym; also indoors as a non-running game.


Bird beaks great for Ks hand-eye coordination.
Ks had fun with the camouflage activity though they tended to choose an environment that matched the clay, instead of making clay colours to match the environment (making it too easy to find the clay).

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7