Charles Darwin Activities for Kids

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Teaching children about the life and work of Charles Darwin can be such an exciting way to help them understand evolution. This lesson offers some activities that will help you make the most of your instructional time.

Teaching About Charles Darwin

Are you trying to help your students understand the theory of evolution or the history of science in general? Or perhaps you are focusing on teaching them about the power individuals have to make a change in the world. Whatever the reason, Charles Darwin can be a really interesting historical figure on which to focus. His life and work can be very inspiring to students and can help children develop a greater appreciation for the world around them.

One way to maximize engagement in your lesson on Charles Darwin is to incorporate activities into your instruction. When you teach with activities, you can appeal to a variety of learning styles and make sure every student takes ownership of his or her learning. The activities in this lesson will help your young students appreciate Darwin and his work.

Visual Activities

Here, you will find activities designed to appeal to those learners who like to work with images or graphic organizers.

What Would Darwin Say?

Break students up into small groups and give each group a nature photograph to work with. Make sure each group is working with a different kind of image, either from a different time period or a different geographic setting. Ask them to work together to look closely at the image and note all of the different kinds of biodiversity they see. They should label the photograph from a Darwinian perspective; labels can respond to these questions:

  • What are some of the adaptations you see?
  • What is the biodiversity that you see or wonder about?
  • What can you learn about nature from looking at this picture?

Then, give students a chance to present their photographs and answers to the rest of the class.

First, and Then, and Then

Students can work alone or in partnerships for this activity. Ask them to try to create and complete a graphic organizer that sequences Darwin's observations and development of the theory of natural selection. Each graphic organizer should include at least two observations that led Darwin to at least one conclusion. Then, give students a chance to draw a picture or write a paragraph detailing what their organizers show. Let them read and respond to each other's work.

Tactile Activities

The activities in this section will work well for students who like to use their hands and bodies to learn.

Model of the Beagle

Students should work in partnerships or small groups for this activity. Ask them to use clay or recycled materials to create a model of Darwin's ship The Beagle. They can create the whole ship or one room in the ship. As they work, have them think and talk together about why this ship was important and what it must have contained in order for Darwin to use it properly.

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