Natural Selection


The lesson introduces students to the Darwin’s concept of natural selection.  Prior to the lesson, the students should understand the basic concept of evolution, or the lesson could be used in conjunction with a lesson related to evolution.  Many students may have heard the term “survival of the fittest”, though may not fully understand how it relates to natural selection.

Natural Selection Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Natural Selection
  • Hands-on homework activities to reinforce their knowledge and understanding of Natural Selection
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 5-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson introduces students to Darwin’s concept of natural selection. The lesson begins with the phrase “survival of the fittest” and explains how this phrase can be applied to the idea of natural selection. Hereditary and genetics are briefly mentioned, and some information about Charles Darwin is included. Students should have some familiarity with evolution before the lesson, or this lesson can be used in conjunction with a lesson about evolution.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. How do living organisms survive over thousands or millions of years? What must they do?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Do you believe humans will exist one million years from now?  Why or why not?
  3. Allow for responses and discussion. What does it mean to evolve?
  4. Allow for responses and discussion. Introduce Natural Selection.
  5. Distribute Natural Selection content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Introduce other examples if necessary from the additional resources.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  6. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students.  Distribute extra scratch paper, colored pencils, and paper for the final drawing of a “Future Human Being”.  Allow students time to discuss and then draw the image.
  7. Once completed, each pair of students will present the image and share the explanation as to why the adaptation occurred and its reason for it.
  8. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.  Ask students to correct false statements.
  9. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.  Allow several students to share responses to questions 11 & 12.
  10. In closing, ask students: What adaptation or change in humans might occur in the future to help with survival?  Why?
  11. Allow for responses and discussion. Help students if necessary, and ask what might happen if the Earth became warmer or cooler.  How would the bodies of humans change to help them survive the change in climate? 

Common Core State Standards: 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.1.c, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.5

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.10

Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Want more science resources? Check out our other Science Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

5th Grade, 6th Grade