DNA Replication Lesson Plan & Activity

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What happens during DNA replication? A video lesson provides detailed information and an activity allows students to create a simple model. Related lessons and additional activities will help you take instruction further.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • label components of DNA
  • explain the process of DNA replication
  • create a model simulating DNA replication


  • 1 to 1.5 hours


  • White paper
  • Markers
  • Green yarn
  • Purple yarn
  • Gray yarn
  • Scissors

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.


Follow precisely a complex multi-step procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.

Key Vocabulary

  • Leading strand
  • Lagging strand
  • Obazaki fragments


NOTE: This lesson is designed for students who already have a solid grasp of the principals of DNA.

  • Begin by asking students to use the paper and markers to draw out the process of DNA replication. The caveat is that they need to try to demonstrate the process with images only, using no words.
  • Now have the students share their drawings. They should show them without explanation, and then respond to any questions regarding what is happening in their drawing.
  • When all students have finished presenting their drawings, play the video lesson DNA Replication: The Leading Strand and DNA Polymerase Activities, allowing students to add to or revise their drawing along with the information presented in the video lesson.
  • Did students correctly demonstrate the process of DNA replication with their sketches? Discuss this in light of the information gleaned from the video lesson.

Discussion Questions

  • Is Obazaki's theory on DNA replication the only possibility?
  • What things could potentially hinder DNA replication?


  • Have students cut a strand of green yarn. This will represent the leading strand.
  • Now have them cut a strand of purple yarn. This will represent the lagging strand.
  • Next have them cut many smaller strands of gray yarn to represent the Okazaki fragments.
  • Students should assemble the strands to mirror the DNA replication process, placing (tying on) the Okazaki fragments in the appropriate places.


  • Show video renderings of DNA replication in progress.
  • Have students make a step by step list of the process of DNA replication.

Related Lessons

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.