Charles Darwin Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Learning about Charles Darwin puts a face and personality behind his ideas and contributions. This lesson plan allows students to learn about natural selection and then promotes collaboration by having students work together to create a giant timeline students can walk through.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe what the term 'natural selection' means
  • Briefly describe the life of Charles Darwin, especially his contributions to the theory of evolution


  • Two 80-minute class periods

Curriculum Standards


Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.


Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.


Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.


Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.


  • A variety of candies
    • Make sure there are some 'gross' candies that students won't pick, like black licorice.
  • Bowl for the candies
  • A variety of art supplies: paper, markers, tape, and glue.
  • Copies of Charles Darwin Lesson Plan for Elementary School, one for each student.
  • Copies of the lesson quiz, one for each student.


  • Before class, record the number and type of each candy in the bowl.
  • After students arrive, pass the bowl around and allow students to pick a couple of pieces of candy (don't mention they are part of an experiment).
  • After everyone has their candy, tell students that they just inadvertently demonstrated natural selection, which was one of Charles Darwin's contributions to evolution.
  • Tell students to imagine that the candies were a type of critter and those critters had lots of variation. Work with students to make a list of the types of variation seen amongst the candies:
    • Sour
    • Sweet
    • Chewy
    • Creamy
  • Ask students if there is variation among humans, like the candies. Make a list of human variation.
    • Hair, skin and eye color
    • Height
  • Now put up the original number and type of candies and next to it write the new number and type of candies (after they were eaten by 'predators').
  • Ask students which traits allowed some of the candies to survive?
    • Bad taste
    • Small size
  • Introduce the term: natural selection and relate it to the candy activity.

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