Supplementary Lesson: Human Traits

  1. Introduction
  2. Teach It
  3. Dig Deeper


In this lesson, students become familiar with their own inherited traits and then look for commonalities amongst their classmates. This is a basic introduction to heredity for students with a limited background on the topic.

Time: one class period


  • Students will define trait and heredity.
  • Students will identify some of their own traits and take a classroom inventory of traits.
  • Students will discuss which traits are most common among the class, and which traits are more unique to themselves.

Types of Activity:

Next Gen Science Standards:

  • Many characteristics of organisms are inherited from their parents. (3-LS3-1)
  • Different organisms vary in how they look and function because they have different inherited information. (3-LS3-1)

STEAM Habit of Mind:

  • Students model with mathematics the results of their traits assessments.

Suggested Do Now:

Word Wall

  • Trait
  • Heredity

Teach It

Materials Needed:


Introduce the day’s topic by showing the “What are Traits?” video from the Genetic Science Learning Center.

As a class, come up with a definition for Traits.  Referring to the movie, have students recall traits that they can see in an individual, and traits that they can not see that an individual has.

Define heredity with the class, as the passing on of traits from parents to offspring, such as illustrated in the video.

Explain that the traits people have may be similar to others, but that the combination of traits that they have are unique.  To illustrate this fact, students will take an inventory of their class traits using the “Inventory of Traits” activity found at from the Genetic Science Learning Center.  The pdf activity can be found in the Materials section.

Begin the activity by having students complete  “An Inventory of My Traits-Survey” worksheet in their Scientist’s Notebook.  Students read through each trait and place a check under “yes” or “no” to prepare for sharing their traits with the class.

In their Scientist’s Notebook, students should complete  “An Inventory of My Traits-Data Table”. Read through each trait one by one.  Stop to have students stand when a trait they have is read. Have students count the number of students standing and record the number on their data table.

When completed, students will create a graph of this data, in their Scientist’s Notebook, to identify which traits are more common among the class, and which are more unique to themselves. Allow students to depict the data in any way they want to as long as it communicates the classroom data.

Dig Deeper (Extension)

In the Traits vs. Traditions game from the Genetic Science Learning Center, students can identify inherited traits and traditions with a small group of students.

Go to Lesson 1: How are Scientists like Artists?