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Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

The Same but Different

Subject Area





This learning activity is an engage activity that should be used at the beginning of a lesson or unit on heredity. The class will look at a picture of a family (preferably the teacher's family) and compare how some physical characteristics are the same and some are different.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 1


    Make observations to identify the similarities and differences of offspring to their parents and to other members of the same species (e.g., flowers from the same kind of plant being the same shape, but differing in size; dog being same breed as parent, but differing in fur color or pattern).

    Unpacked Content



    • identify
    • observation
    • similarities
    • differences
    • offspring
    • parents
    • members
    • species
    • evidence
    • pattern


    Students know:
    • Young animals are very much, but not exactly, like their parents.
    • Plants are very much, but not exactly, like their parents.


    Students are able to:
    • Use observations as evidence to identify similarities and differences between parents and offspring and between offspring and other members of the same species.


    Students understand that:
    • Patterns can be used as evidence that individuals of the same kind of plant or animal are recognizable as similar but can also vary in many ways.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

    Crosscutting Concepts



    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    I can make observations to identify how family members have similarities and differences.

    Activity Details

    Show the students the family photo you have selected. Ask the students if they can identify the members. The students should be able to recognize the parents and the offspring. Draw a chart on the board with the name of each family member in a different column. The students will copy this chart in their science journals. Beneath each name, the students will list that person's physical characteristics (eye color, hair color, hair type, etc.). After the students have written down all the physical characteristics, they will compare them and discuss which are similar and which are different. This can be discussed with partners, groups, or as a whole group. End the activity with this question: What do you think causes all the similarities and differences? Allow the students to share their responses. This activity is just an engage activity so it is acceptable for the students' thoughts on the last question to be incorrect. The goal of that question is just to get the students thinking. 

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Student observations in their science journal will be used to assess if the student identified how family members have similarities and differences.

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    The teacher will need to display a family photo (preferably the teacher's family but any family will do). The photo should have adults and their offspring.  

    Students will need pencils and their science journals.