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Time Frame:
1 class period that runs 30 minutes.

Group Size:
Small Groups


Students will generate a list of traits of an individual and then group them by similarities. The teacher will guide the discussion to eventually label all traits as acquired or inherited.

Main Curriculum Tie:
SEEd - Grade 7 (2017)Strand 7.4: Reproduction and Inheritance
The great diversity of species on Earth is a result of genetic variation. Genetic traits are passed from parent to offspring. These traits affect the structure and behavior of organisms, which affect the organism's ability to survive and reproduce. Mutations can cause changes in traits that may affect an organism. As technology has developed, humans have been able to change the inherited traits in organisms which may impact society.


  • overhead project OR
  • index cards (10-12 per group)

Instructional Procedures:

  1. Ask students to think about all the characteristics we use to describe an individual. You can write their responses on the board or overhead or you can have students write the traits on index cards (one per card).
  2. Once a list of traits has been generated, ask students to group them. Discuss what characteristics might be used to create groups. Do not label the groups yet.
  3. Give students an opportunity to categorize each of the traits that was listed. If they have index cards, they can work in a group and move the cards around. They should only develop two or three categories.
  4. Clarify the characteristics of each category and give students the definition (or have them look it up in their books)
    • Acquired traits: traits an individual has learned
    • Inherited traits: traits an individual was born with
  5. Ask students to put all the traits into these two groups. Have a group share what they get and discuss with the class whether they are right or wrong. The textbook could also be used to have students check their work. There will be traits that really are a mixture of both, the person has used an inherited trait to help them acquire a skill beyond what others can do.
  6. If a written assignment is desired, have students write definitions for each category and list the traits under each.
  7. This activity can be adapted to any classification activity. In the 7th grade core classifying living things would also work well with this format.

Lesson Design by Jordan School District Teachers and Staff.

Utah LessonPlans

Created Date :
Oct 03 2014 14:09 PM