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Inherited Traits Lesson Plan

Author: Cassie Walker

Year: 2015

Artform: Drama

Subjects: Science

Grade: 5th

Duration: 45 minutes

Overview: Parents and offspring share similar characteristics and behaviors. Can your class guess which two actors are portraying the same species, and which actor is the impostor? Then, add another twist by placing the organisms in a different environment. Can a frog survive in the arctic? Why not? Can an apple tree grow in the ocean? Why not? What features make each organism suitable to its environment?

Standards and Objectives

FIFTH GRADE UEN 2010 THEATER STANDARD 2, OBJECTIVE 1:
Develop body awareness and spatial perception through movement and pantomime.
5TH GRADE SCIENCE STANDARD 5, OBJECTIVE 1B:
Identify similar physical traits of a parent organism and its offspring.

FIFTH GRADE SCIENCE STANDARD 5, OBJECTIVE 2C:
Describe how a particular physical attribute may provide an advantage for survival in one environment but not in another (e.g., heavy fur in arctic climates keep animals warm whereas in hot desert climates it would cause overheating; flippers on such animals as sea lions and seals provide excellent swimming structures in the water but become clumsy and awkward on land; cacti retain the right amount of water in arid regions but would develop root rot in a more temperate region; fish gills have the ability to absorb oxygen in water but not on land).
Students will use body shapes and movement to show traits that are shared between parents/offspring in plants and animals that help them survive in their environment.


TEACHING AND TIMELINE

INTRODUCTION

Game: Hitchhiker

(10 minutes) Four students sit as if in a car. The person sitting in the passenger seat takes on a character quality and everyone else mimics it. Students rotate until everyone in the class has had a chance to be the hitchhiker.

Purpose: Mirroring, varying physicality and vocal qualities.


DEMONSTRATION

Activate Prior Knowledge

(5 minutes) Teach/review concepts from the classroom about plant and animal traits, parent-offspring similarities, and how certain traits may help or hinder organisms in a certain environment.

WORK PERIOD

Performance 1: Parent/Offspring Similarities

(15 minutes) In groups of 3, students will select a random plant or animal card. Using that plant or animal, each group will practice and perform a vignette that shows parent/offspring similarities in appearance, movement, or both. Two of the students will portray the parent and offspring, while the third will stand or move in a different way. The audience will guess the plant or animal, and which student is the odd one out. (15 min)



Performance 2: Environment Switch

(10 minutes) After performing each vignette, students will choose an environment card and act out whether or not that plant/animal’s traits would allow it to survive in that environment.

CLOSURE/SUMMARY

Debrief

(5 minutes) Ask students to share how parents and offspring share traits, and how those traits help them to survive, using some examples seen in the activity.

Point out how specialized structures that help an animal in its own environment might hinder it in another environment. Examples from the science standard: “heavy fur in arctic climates keep animals warm whereas in hot desert climates it would cause overheating; flippers on such animals as sea lions and seals provide excellent swimming structures in the water but become clumsy and awkward on land; cacti retain the right amount of water in arid regions but would develop root rot in a more temperate region; fish gills have the ability to absorb oxygen in water but not on land.”
  • What are similar traits between parents and offspring in a given organism?
  • How do an organism’s traits help it survive in its environment?
Adapt as necessary for students with individual abilities and needs.
  • Traits
  • Parents
  • Offspring
  • Environment
  • Specialized Structures
  • Quality of Movement
  • Were students’ movements clear enough to help the audience guess the organism?
  • Did students change their movement to reflect the effects of the new environment?
  • Were the parent and offspring similar, while the third actor was different?

SUPPLIES, EQUIPMENT AND RESOURCES

  • Plant/Animal Cards
  • Environment Cards