DNA Lesson Pan for Elementary School

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan provides teachers with activities for teaching elementary students about DNA. Students will read a text lesson and participate in an investigation about their genetic code.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define DNA.
  • Describe the structure of DNA.
  • Describe the purpose of DNA.


This lesson will take approximately 45-90 minutes.

Curriculum Standards


Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.


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.


  • complementary base pairs
  • deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
  • double helix

Lesson Instructions

Materials needed: slide show of various siblings, pipe cleaners, beads

Activate prior knowledge by showing students pictures of siblings. As students look at each picture, guide them in a discussion of things the siblings have in common and things that are different. Ask students to speculate why some, but not all, traits are the same.

Read the lesson DNA Lesson for Kids: Definition & Structure as a class. Pause after the 'What Is DNA?' section to ask:

  • What is DNA?
  • What things have DNA?
  • Why is DNA important?

Read the 'Structure of DNA' section. Pause to ask the following?

  • What is DNA made of?
  • What parts of DNA create complementary base pairs?

Have students work in pairs to create a DNA double helix out of pipe cleaners. Have students attach complementary base pairs using four different colors of beads.

Read the remainder of the lesson with students.

Use the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.

Genetic Data Collection

Materials needed: highlighters

  • Have students create a chart similar to the one below to collect information about members of their family.

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