Lesson 1: Relationships Among Organisms

Day 2

Activity 4: Shared Traits

Ask your child to think about traits he shares with his parents or grandparents and discuss the shared traits he recognizes.

Now explain to him that he is going to analyze some specific traits and collect data on which traits certain family members have. Have him list the names of his family members (including himself) and any grandparents that will fit on the chart. Some traits will have yes/no and others will have specific answers like hair color or eye color.

Note: If you have an adopted or foster child, instead of doing this activity as written, have your child identify his own traits and discuss how they were passed down from his birth parents. He does not need to compare them with other family members, but it might be fun to see which traits he does share with family members even though they are not genetically related — people all over the world have these traits.

Activity 5: Inherited Traits or Learned Behaviors?

Explain to your child that some traits we have are inherited, meaning we get them from our parents, but others are acquired, meaning that they develop over time. A common type of acquired trait is a learned behavior, which is something that we learn from others in our environment — it is not something we are born with. An example would be enjoying classical music — a child may not like classical music at first but can learn to like it as she gets older. Another example is your dog doing a trick like rolling over. A family member had to teach the dog how to do the trick, so the trick is a learned behavior. Learned behaviors are not passed down from parents to offspring like inherited traits are.

Ask your child to complete the "Inherited Traits or Learned Behaviors?" activity sheet.

Activity 6: Heredity in Plants

Talk about the fact that, like animals, plants also have traits they inherit from their parents. These traits include flower color, flower smell, stem length, leaf size and shape, and root type.

On the "Heredity in Plants" page, have your child circle the plant that has inherited the same traits of the parent plant.