Lesson Plans and Worksheets
Browse by Subject
Natural Selection Teacher Resources
Find Natural Selection educational ideas and activities
Does the early bird really get the worm? If so, which color of worm does it prefer? In an exciting and easy week-long field investigation, young field biologists set up a one square meter feeding area for birds. If you have a webcam, learners can observe from inside the classroom. Different colored spaghetti (prepared with food coloring) is cut into worm sizes and placed in the feeding area. Each day, your budding zoologists will make observations and record data; they will gain new insight into not only the eating habits of local fauna, but also develop a deeper understanding of natural selection.
Do you have what it takes to survive as a fit predator or will elusive prey lead to your extinction? Find out in a creative natural selection activity. Using different colors and shapes of grains to represent different species and generations of organisms, your little hunters will try to collect as many as possible using forceps as beaks. To add some diversity to your predator populations, you could adapt the activity by having kids use tweezers, chopsticks, spoons, or other tools in addition to the forceps.
A diagram, data table, and reading passage top this resource. Through it, biology beginners are introduced to the concept of natural selection. They answer some questions and then participate in a simulation using fabric as a habitat and different-colored craft pom poms as animals. Acting as hunters and capturing pom poms, they find that the camouflauged animals survive and reproduce. A data table, graph, and critical thinking questions solidify learning.
Here is yet another variation of the classic activity in which lab groups use different tools to imitate different bird beaks as a demonstration of one of the factors in natural selection. What makes this one unique is that it is on a brightly colored worksheet and is followed by an assignment to write a paragraph about the occurrence of natural selection. Genetic variation and mutation are mentioned as part of the lesson.
A sufficient slide show on natural selection is available to use with your biology class. It introduces viewers to foundations of this mechanism of evolutionary change. Notes are provided to support your lecture on genetic variation and the three types of selection: directional, stabilizing, and disruptive. Helpful graphs and photos enhance understanding of the concept of natural selection.
Kids act as scientists and preditors in this short natural selection activity; they collect and analyze data, then apply their new knowledge to real-world examples of natural selection. The layout of the worksheet is easy enough to use in sub plans, yet challenges learners through hypothesis formation, higher-level thinking, and conclusion writing.
Matching and fill-in-the-blank exercises give biology whizzes a chance to practice vocabulary associated with evolution. Terms to be reviewed focus on evidence for evolution, natural selection concepts, and some genetics words. You could use this as a quiz at the end of your introduction to natural selection.
Students solve the following problem concerning the evolution of seed color in pinto bean plants: "How does natural selection change the frequency of genes or traits over many generations?" They use the constructivist approach to studying as they work in teams to design and conduct an experiment that solves this natural selection "problem."
Seventh graders examine natural variation by visiting the Ohi'a Common Garden in Volcano, Hawaii. In this natural selection lesson, 7th graders study background information about phenotypes, genotypes, and phenotypic plasticity before looking at organisms that are found on different elevations at the field trip site.
What does appearance have to do with survival in nature? Allow your future biologists a chance to learn about natural selection through games, flashcards, discussions, and an interesting writing prompt about squirrel colors in the Grand Canyon. Also included are several ways to differentiate, possible extensions, and school-home connections.
Teens experience natural selection firsthand (or first beak) in an activity that has them act as finches foraging for food. Using different household items (tweezers, chopsticks, plastic spoons, etc.) to act as different beak styles, your little finches will collect as much food as they can from the sources available. After a storm limits the food supply and isolates the finches on different islands, they will have to see if their adaptations prove to be an asset or a death sentence. Throughout the activity, the finches will double as field biologists, recording data and reporting it out to the class.
The evidence for natural selection is presented as a random variation of a characteristic allowing a particular strain of organism to survive with a higher probability of successful reproduction. Population change over a short period of time is detailed and examples of antibiotic or vaccine resistance are given. Students will find this information accessible and it would be a good complement to a teacher-led lesson.