Selective Breeding Activities

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

If you are studying evolution, it's important for students to understand how people can impact the natural process of evolution. Use these activities to help students learn about selective breeding.

More Desirable

Whether it's a cow bred to produce more milk or a type of corn that is bred to resist insect damage, selective breeding practices allow people to breed animals and plants for desired traits. When students learn about selective breeding, it helps them to understand the diversity of life in our world and how humans can impact it. Additionally, students can examine the viability and sustainability of selective breeding.

Let's look at some activities to help students learn about selective breeding.

Selective Superhero

Engage students in creating a new comic book superhero by combining desired traits from other superheroes.

Materials

  • Comic books

Teacher Directions

  • Show the class comic books and have students discuss their favorite superheroes.
  • Define selective breeding and discuss how breeders select desired traits from animals and plants that they would like to have expressed in their offspring.
  • Divide the class into small groups and provide each group with comic books.
  • Have the groups determine superhero powers they would like a new superhero to possess. Students should then determine two superheroes that would be the best fit for parents to have a child with these superhero powers.
  • Each group should then create a skit to introduce their new superhero, their powers, and their parental lineage. This skit could resemble a talk show, news report, documentary, etc.
  • When the groups are finished, have them present their skits to the class.

Discussion Questions

  • How was creating a new superhero similar to selective breeding?
  • Do you think offspring created using selective breeding will always express the desired traits? Why or why not?

Selective Breeding Scrapbook

Have students create pages to go in a selective breeding scrapbook for the classroom.

Materials

  • Picture of a dachshund dog
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Scrapbook supplies (stickers, construction paper, markers, colored pencils)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Access to print/online resources

Teacher Directions

  • Show students a picture of a dachshund dog. Ask them to identify why they think the dachshund is so long and low to the ground. Discuss how the dachshund was created through a process called selective breeding to be able to fit into rabbit holes to flush out prey for hunters.
  • Define the term selective breeding and discuss why people want to selectively breed plants and animals.
  • Divide the class into pairs and provide each pair with scrapbook paper, scrapbook supplies, glue, and scissors.
  • Tell students that they will be creating a scrapbook page about an animal or plant that was created through selective breeding for a classroom scrapbook.
  • Each pair should research an animal or plant created by selective breeding. On their scrapbook pages, students should include a picture of the plant or animal. It should also include information about how the animal or plant was bred to create the breed or variety and what desirable traits motivated people to use selective breeding.
  • When the students are finished, have them share their scrapbook pages with the class. Bind the pages together to create a classroom scrapbook that students can refer to when reviewing the concept.

Discussion Questions

  • Why would people use selective breeding?
  • What might go wrong if a breed of animal or variety of plant is constantly used to breed others?

Class Debate

Engage students in a debate over whether selective breeding is a sustainable and ethical practice.

Materials

  • Access to print/online resources
  • Index cards
  • Pencils

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