“The One and Only Me” – Family traits book & lesson ideas
Last week I taught a cub scouts group (ages 8-9) about genealogy. I wanted to connect with their interests, so I decided to talk about science. I brought this book with me: The One and Only Me: A Book About Genes by Ariana Killoran, a 23andMe Book. Preschool – Grade 3 (ages 4-8).
It’s a fantastic introduction to inheritance and variation of traits for children.
Poppy has red hair, freckles, blue eyes, and likes making pizza. She says that she has two siblings that look alike and asks, “why do I looks so different?” She learns all about cells, genes (not jeans), DNA, recessive and dominant, and which traits are inherited and which aren’t.
“Genes tell your cells what types of cells to be…” and “DNA, a long spiraling molecule found in all living creatures,” are some of the simple yet effective descriptions.
Some parts of who we are are determined by many genes and also the world around us. One page talks about personality. Scientists aren’t sure where that comes from! My favorite page is a picture pedigree chart showing which ancestors had red hair and passed down the recessive red hair gene. I also love the page about the history of our genes. “Your genes have quite a history! They tell a story about all the people in your family who came before you, from all over the world, back through the ages. Who knows whose genes the three of you might share!”
The cub scouts were riveted. At one point during the book’s discussion of the recessive light eyes gene and asked, “who has light eyes? Do you know where you got them from?” There was a hubub of discussion for a minute until I started reading again. Then a big hush went over them as they listened attentively.
After reading the book, I gave them a family traits worksheet that they could use to collect data about their family. They all wanted to take off their shoes to check the length of their second toe, but we decided to wait on that data point!
Download the worksheet:
Family Traits Docx
Family Traits PDF
The second page of the worksheet is a table about which traits are dominant and which are recessive.
After this we did a family tree worksheet and a hands on play dough pedigree activity – thank you Emily Schroeder for this idea.
The activity was a success! The cub scouts even shared a story about one of their ancestors. They were completely engaged.
Teaching with The Book
On the front inside cover flap of The One and Only Me, it says “learn more about the genetics of inheritance at www.23andme.com/gen101
“The topics of inheritance and variation of traits are part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) taught in elementary school classrooms in the U.S. Teachers can find supporting resources for teaching inheritance and other genetics concepts addressed by The One and Only Me at www.23andme.com/education.”
Buy The One and Only Me: A Book About Genes here. (This is an affiliate link. If you click the link and make a purchase, we receive a small commission but it doesn’t change the price of the item.)
I looked at my library, but it wasn’t available, probably because it just came out in 2016. I suggested that they purchase it for their collection using their online book suggestion form. And they did!