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Life Cycles, Traits, and Variations

Life Cycles, Traits, and Variations


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About This Lesson

This unit examines the life cycles of various plants and animals, including the defining characteristics that are shared or varied by individuals in the same population. Students investigate how life cycles of various organisms differ and what they have in common: the pattern of birth, growth, reproduction, and death.

The focus then shifts to how organisms can be described by their traits and the visible evidence that traits are inherited. Students learn how the environment can affect traits. For example, the size of a plant will be tall or short depending on how much water it gets or the amount of sunlight it receives. Students also learn that some traits can help an individual to survive and reproduce. Other traits can reduce an individual’s chances to survive and reproduce. For example, in an area marked by steady, powerful winds, individuals in a bird population that have the trait of big, strong wings may survive and reproduce in greater numbers than individuals in that population that have small, weak wings.

Number of Lessons: 14

Instruction Time:

  • Each Lesson is designed to be completed in one 30–45-minute class period. Some lessons may take more than one class period.
  • Some single-day activities and performance tasks might require setting aside a longer block of time.
  • This Unit should be completed in 19 classroom days.
  • A Pacing Guide is provided within the Teacher Guide.
  • A complete list of Materials needed to complete the unit is provided in Online Resources.


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