Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Genetics Lesson Plan

     I was so excited to see some very creative ideas on my Curriculum Challenge Contest. The winning idea was "GENETICS", submitted by Traci Matheson.  Thank you Traci. Below you will find the lesson plan I quickly put together for my preschooler using this theme. In my opinion, I think a lesson plan should consist of: 2-3 art/craft projects, a writing practice sheet, a social/emotional discussion, a physical exercise activity, and a snack/cooking project.

     Genetics is obviously a very complicated subject, but I believe any concept can be simplified for young children.

     DISCUSSION - I explained to Marley about the word "genes" and how it is different from "jeans." That took a while to straighten out, and I couldn't help but smile when she said "My pants make my eyes brown!" LOL Eventually, she understood that it was different.  I think it helped that I tugged on my skin and said the "genes" are inside our bodies and I pretended to talk to my genes.
Example: "Hey genes! What color did you make my eyes? Oh! You made my eyes brown! Thank you genes. I like my brown eyes." I asked her to repeat this about herself.
Marley thought it was hilarious that we were talking to our bodies. I also like the idea of teaching my girls that I am happy with the way I look, and I am grateful.

      EYE COLOR PROJECT - After the basic concept is explained, we did our first assignment.  I printed out blue and brown eyes, and I cut them out.  I drew four circles on a white sheet of paper representing our family members. I gave Marley some glue and the eyes, and told her to glue the right colors on our faces. (Reading names practice and exercising fine motor skills.)

     FINGERPRINT PROJECT - Another project we did this week was fingerprinting. I explained that our genes give each of us different fingerprints.  I made sure she understood that her fingerprints are very special because no one else has her fingerprints. She liked it. I found a simple fingerprint chart on the Scholastic website.  Fingerprinting was fun!

     XY CHROMOSOME PROJECT - Our 3rd assignment was a lesson on how our genes tell our bodies if we will be a girl or a boy.  I didn't go into chromosomes, but I told her a girl's genes is XX and a boy's genes is XY.  I printed out boy and girl shapes and wrote X-Y combinations on her paper and let her glue down the appropriate shape to the letters. After showing her the two examples, she had it down and even asked for another worksheet to keep gluing boys and girls.

    WRITING - This was a perfect transition into our writing practice.  We focused on Xs and Ys this week.  I love using this Printing Practice website, because I can customize the worksheets.

     EXERCISE - In the afternoons we played tag but with a twist.  We picked pieces of paper out of a hat indicating, blue eyes, brown eyes, blond hair, or brown hair.  Whatever you chose you needed to tag a person with that trait. It was a very fun exercise.

     SNACK PROJECT - I haven't done our snack project this week yet, but I plan to do this one tomorrow with Twizzlers and mini-marshmallows to form a double helix.  Before I start the project I will do a simple explanation about DNA and genes, and I will show Marley a picture of a double helix.  Then we will make one with our treats! Make sure to count out each marshmallow (more counting practice!).

     "Genetics" was a fabulous idea for a preschool lesson plan. Not many preschoolers are exposed to these concepts, but we had a great time and I felt it was a great way to reiterate to my girl that her genes make her unique and special.  It turned out to be a wonderful lesson on self-esteem and confidence and acceptance of people with different genes.