Genetic Traits Lesson Plan

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 biology students about genetic traits. Students will watch a video lesson and create a model using genotype and phenotype.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Use content-specific vocabulary to explain genetic traits.
  • Differentiate between phenotype and genotype.
  • Create a model using genetic information.


This lesson will take approximately 45-90 minutes.

Curriculum Standards


Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins, which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.


Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.


  • allele
  • chromosome
  • diploid
  • DNA
  • gene
  • genetic selection
  • genome
  • genotype
  • heritable traits
  • phenotype

Lesson Instructions

Activate prior knowledge by showing students a slide show of different colors of horses. Ask students why they think horses look so different from one another. Explain that today's lesson will explain how genetics create differences among members of the same species.

Watch the lesson Genetics: Heredity, Traits & Chromosomes as a class. Pause at 2:33 to ask the following questions:

  • What is genetic selection?
  • How did farmers and ranchers use genetic selection before the science was identified?
  • How do you think genetic selection will be used in the future?
  • What is the difference between genotype and phenotype?

Continue watching the video. Pause at 4:53. Have students work in pairs to make a T-chart on which they list examples of heritable traits and traits that are not heritable. Provide students an opportunity to share with the class.

Ask students the following questions:

  • How are genes, chromosomes, and genomes structured?
  • Why do diploids have two versions of each chromosome?

Watch the remainder of the lesson with students. Ask the following:

  • What is an allele?
  • Why are alleles important?

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

Genetic Model

Materials needed: clay, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, plastic cups (prepared), craft sticks (prepared), chart paper, markers

Preparation: Each group will receive 5 cups that are labeled: antennae (A), body segments (B), eyes (E), legs (L), teeth (T). Each cup will contain 8 craft sticks. At the end of four of the craft sticks, write a capital letter representing the dominant genotype. At the end of the other four craft sticks, write a lower-case letter representing the recessive genotype.

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