Natural Selection Classroom Games & Activities

Instructor: Tawnya Eash

Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.

Are you looking for an interesting way to teach your elementary students about natural selection? This lesson is a great resource for activities and games that help students understand natural selection.

Natural Selection

Natural Selection occurs when environmental factors determine how well certain traits of organisms help those organisms survive and reproduce. Thus meaning that if a certain organism does not have the traits it needs in order to survive, it has to either adapt or the organism will become extinct.

After teaching your students about natural selection, you may be looking for some meaningful activities and games to continue the development of this concept.

Activities

Teddy Grahams

Students will participate in a hands-on natural selection activity demonstrating how camouflage helps animals survive.

  • Materials:
    • Light brown felt or construction paper (could use dark brown if light brown is not available)
    • Chocolate Teddy Grahams
    • Honey Teddy Grahams
  • Procedure:
    • Have students work in small groups or with a partner.
    • Students will take turns being the predator until all prey (Teddy Grahams) of one color are extinct.
    • Set felt or construction paper on desk/table. Spread both colors of the Teddy Grahams on the felt/construction paper.
    • The first student will grab a handful of Teddy Grahams that stick out. Ex: if using a light brown piece of felt or construction paper, the chocolate Teddy Grahams will stick out. This represents one generation of Teddy Grahams.
    • The next student will grab another handful of Teddy Grahams that stick out (are not camouflaged).
    • When all of the Teddy Grahams of one color are extinct, have students discuss the activity.
  • Discussion and/or written responses:
    • Describe how easy it was to collect the last remaining offspring that did not blend in with the environment.
    • What is likely to happen with the Teddy Grahams that remain?

Let's Write About It!

In this activity, students will have an opportunity to write about how certain animals will adapt to survive in their environment.

  • Materials:
    • Writing paper
    • Pencils
    • Optional: construction paper or drawing paper to illustrate writing activity
  • Procedure:
    • Prompt 1: There were two types of rabbits that were created. One type of rabbit can only eat berries. The other type of rabbit can only eat greens (leaves and grass). Unfortunately, in Rabbit Haven Forest there was a drought. The plants did not receive enough water to flourish as they normally do. The plants could only grow their leaves and did not have enough energy to produce the berries.
      • Write about what will happen to the two types of rabbits in Rabbit Haven Forest. What will happen to the rabbits that eat only greens? What will happen to the rabbits that eat only berries? Which type of rabbit will grow best and be able to reproduce?
    • Prompt 2: In Polar Bear City, there are two types of polar bears. One type of polar bear has a thin, cool coat of fur. It can survive cold temperatures, but cannot live in a place where the temperature is below freezing. The second type of polar bear has a thick, warm fur coat. This polar bear can survive in the coldest of temperatures, even below freezing! In 2017, Polar Bear City had the coldest winter ever. The temperatures remained below freezing for four months!
      • Write about your predictions on what will happen to the two types of polar bears. What will happen to the polar bears with the thin, cool coat of fur? What will happen to the polar bears with the thick, warm coat of fur? Which type of polar bear will grow best in this type of environment?
  • Optional: students may illustrate a drawing to go with each prompt.

Games

Which Beak?

Students race against time to see which beak works best for each type of food for a bird. Each species of bird has a beak that is adapted to allow the bird to eat certain types of food from its environment.

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