Charles Darwin Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

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

Learning about Charles Darwin can help students form a better understanding of evolution and its significance. This lesson provides activities that make it fun and engaging to study Darwin.

Studying Charles Darwin

Teaching students about the lives and works of people who have made a significant difference can be so important in helping them understand human history. Whether you are approaching him from the perspective of his contributions to science or from the point of view of anthropology and history, Charles Darwin is someone whose life and work can really help students understand the impact one individual can make.

When teaching students about Darwin, you might want to think about ways to incorporate activities into your instruction, thus maximizing your students' engagement levels and helping them really retain what they learn. The activities in this lesson offer opportunities for students with different learning styles to appreciate Charles Darwin.

Visual Activities

Many students learn best when they are allowed to work with images or graphic organizers. This section offers activities well suited to such visual learners.

Visual Timeline

Understanding the chronology of Darwin's life and contributions can really help students make sense of his significance. Ask students to work with partners to make timelines representing at least ten different important things that happened over the course of Darwin's life. They should offer a small illustration or icon for each item they include on the timeline. Make sure to leave time for students to share their work with one another, comparing and contrasting the events they chose to include.


One of the things that inspired Darwin's work was seeing the tremendous amount of biodiversity on the Galapagos Islands and elsewhere. Have students work with partners to take or find photographs of at least four different species of plants and animals. They should glue each picture to the middle of a poster board, then draw lines out from the picture. At the end of each line, they should write specific details they notice about the species. Then, have them examine each other's work and lead to a discussion about how and why biodiversity led to the theory of natural selection.

Tactile and Kinesthetic Activities

Here, you will find activities that appeal to those students who do their best learning when they can use their hands and bodies to make sense of new information and concepts.

Aboard the Beagle

Break students into groups for this activity. In their groups, have them imagine that they are on board the Beagle with Charles Darwin. They should write and act out a scene that depicts a conversation or event that might have occurred on the ship, being as realistic and thoughtful as possible. Leave time to let them perform their skits for one another!

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