Biology Lesson Plans

Classroom Lessons

Bug Blitz - Study in Biodiversity
Microscope Mania

Pond Water Survey
Hydra Investigation
Animal Classification Challenge
Incredible Cells
Construction Zone & Classroom Cell Project
Mitosis Flip Books
Genetics with a Smile + SpongeBob Genetics
DNA Keychains & Replication

Protein Power Game
Egg-cellent Ideas for Osmosis & Diffusion
Human Body Activities (Body Systems, Skeletal System, Muscular System)

Also check out ...

Silly Science - A dichotomous key activity in General Science section!

More lessons for Biology are available at
The Nature Center - Lesson Page - Explore an assortment of lesson ideas and links to explore the natural world.
Adopt-An-Insect Project
- Activities, Worksheets, and links to investigate the insect world!
Eagle Days Lessons & Resources - Explore the world of bald eagles with your students!

Also visit Lesson Plan Links for Biology - Links to my favorite online resources for lesson plans, activities, and worksheets.

Internet Lessons
Note For Teachers: Please take time to preview the links on any Internet assignment before you use it with your students. With the ever-changing nature of the Internet, links may be become broken or websites are no longer available. If you find a problem, please let me know using the Contact Form.


Classroom Lessons

Bug Blitz - A Study in Biodiversity (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Living things, classification, scientific investigations, process skills (observation, data collection, analysis, etc.), biodiversity

In past years our district had money for field trips to local nature areas for the Butterfly Brigade project; however, budget cuts made it difficult to pay for transportation.  I decided to adapt the project to a smaller level using our school garden, which is a quick walk to our front schoolyard!  I started this new project in the fall of 2016 as part of my Ecology unit for my 8th grade students.  The goal of project was to investigate biodiversity by documenting the bug populations that could be found there.   This project was a huge hit with the students - not only catching/documenting the bugs, but also implementing their strategies in the spring as we redid the school garden. This project could be utilized at any outdoor setting, such as state parks and local natural areas.

Download the Bug Blitz Project Information file (includes links to the PPT and worksheets as well as information regarding learning standards.)

Also available - Insect-related lessons and activities


Microscope Mania (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Microscopes - history and uses, lab safety, classification (if using pond water)

After learning about the basic parts of a microscope and an overview of the proper procedures for using them, my students visit 5 lab stations to learn more about the world of microscopes. I allow at least 15-20 minutes per station and provide all the materials needed to complete the activities. Download the Teacher Notes below for a description of the station activities as well as a list of materials students need. Unit objectives and extension ideas are also provided.

NOTE: I developed this lab to deal with increasing class sizes and a limited amount of microscopes. Each year I found it challenging to teach microscope topics to 25+ students at a time with only 10 microscopes. With the stations, I am able to set up groups of 5-6 students and the students enjoy not having to share microscopes. I tend to focus my efforts on the groups at stations 3 & 4 as the others can be completed with little assistance from the teacher with the exception of a few visits to keep everyone on task.

Microscope Mania Unit Materials:

  • Teacher Notes (pdf) - Provides an overview of the unit as well as a description of the station activities and materials needed.
  • Station Cards (pdf) - Provides information cards for each station as well as materials for two review games - Parts & Pieces and Vocab Challenge.
  • Mystery Pictures Cards (pdf) - A set of 24 cards with mystery images and clues for each one. An answer key is provided.
  • Review Activities (pdf) - These review materials go with Station 5 of the unit and includes a vocabulary challenge and "label the parts" microscope diagram.
  • Student Worksheet (pdf) - Student worksheet for the Microscope Mania station cards.
  • Microscope Mania Puzzles (pdf) - Two puzzles related to the world of microscopes - a word search and make-a-word challenge. I provide this worksheet with the student worksheet for the stations, so students can work on the puzzles using any extra time they have after finishing station activities.
  • Microscope Mania Review Crossword (pdf) - I use this puzzle as a review for the unit test. An answer key is also available.

Other resources for microscopes ...                               

Need more ideas for your microscope unit or want ideas for additional stations? Try these sites...
JLab Microscopes
Molecular Expressions - Science, Optics, & You

| Back to top |

Pond Water Survey (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Living things, classification, scientific investigations, microscopes, process skills (observation, data collection, analysis, etc.), food webs (if additional lesson is included)

An easy way to fascinate your students is to allow them to investigate samples of pond water (whether a large farm pond or small backyard pond.) They are sure to find little critters zooming around the slide. You will need to gather several samples (or have the students bring in their own), microscopes, and identification guides. Golden Guide publishes an inexpensive Pond Water booklet that contains lots of pictures and information. Follow-up discussions of finds will provide students with the chance to use biological terms to compare and contrast different forms of life. The updated version listed below includes additional lesson activities challenging students to create food chains using plants and animals found in or near a pond. It also includes templates for aquatic invertebrate trading cards.

A great resource for teachers with little biology background is to check with your local Department of Conservation or Natural History Survey. I was able to recruit a couple biologists along with their cool equipment and samples to work along with my students during class. My students were able to see organisms from the Illinois River and I loved having help in an area that I have little training.

A few years ago my district purchased a video flex microscope camera. Using this technology, my students are able to create a video documentary of our pond organisms. Each spring and fall we document our research and compare the changes that occur throughout the year.

Lesson Resources:

  • Pond Water Survey (pdf) - Contains teacher notes, discussion questions, and student worksheets.
  • Pond Water Webs (pdf) - Investigate food chains and webs that exists in a pond habitat. Download includes teacher notes, student worksheet, answer key, and Life in a Pond cards. A Power Point presentation is also available for use with interactive whiteboards.
  • Need identification guides? Visit the Pond Water Links page of the Kid Zone.


| Back to top |

Hydra Investigation (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)

During this lab activity, students observe the characteristics of life as they complete the lab worksheet. I adapted the basic lab found in a previously used textbook to include an information section. Students will need to use various reference sources and deductive skills to fill in the blanks.

For this activity (which takes one class period) you will need microscopes, depression slides, toothpicks, fish food, vinegar, and a supply of hydra (available through science supply companies for a small amount of $$). I use a small eyedropper to get the hydra from the vial to the slide - one slide for 2 to 3 students.

Student Worksheet: Hydra Lab

Worksheet Answers:
Part A: 1. jellyfish, 2. Cnidaria,3. cells, 4. tentacles, 5. ponds, 6. streams, 7. ingest, 8. excrete, 9. stinging, 10. paralyze, 11. creeping, 12. looping, 13. regenerate, 14. tissue, 15. organism, 16. multicellular, 17. hermaphroditic, 18. sex cells, 19. budding, 20. separate

Part B: Step 1: Check diagrams and labels; Step 2: Hydra will “draw” in its tentacles or possibly attach to toothpick, Step 3: Hydra will move towards the food and “nibble” on it.

Part C: Various answers might include movement, metabolism (ingestion, excretion), reproduction (if buds are present), and responds to environment.

 | Back to top |

Classification Challenges (T.Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Living things, classification, binomial nomenclature, invertebrates, vertebrates

I designed this activity to allow students to practice invertebrate and vertebrate classification using the organisms discussed in our Animal Classification unit. Teacher notes, student worksheets, and organism cards are included in the downloades listed below. You will also need the classification mats, which needs to be printed regular-sized paper and taped together to form one mat.

Classy Invertebrates

Invertebrate Classification Challenge (PDF), Classification Mat (PDF), Invertebrate Classification Quiz (PDF) , and Classy Invertebrates PowerPoint (PPT)
Also check out a version of the
Invertebrate Cards with color photographs - submitted by Jessica Ruffin

Classy Vertebrates

Vertebrate Classification Challenge (PDF), Classification Mat (PDF), Critter Cards (PDF), Vertebrate Classification Quiz (PDF), and Classy Vertebrates PowerPoint (PPT)

Also check out ...
Classification of Life
- I use this worksheet during our classification unit at the beginning of the year.  Links are available on the Kid Zone!
Silly Science - a dichotomous key activity in General Science section!

| Back to top |

Incredible Cells (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Living things, cells (plant and animal), organelles and their functions

The "edible" version of this project was an annual favorite was adapted from the old Jello cells! The project is a great addition to any cell unit and provides a tasty treat for your students. Refer to the Student Worksheet below for details and instructions. The download also includes a student worksheet for a nonedible cell project. If I have any students with food allergies, I require everyone to do the nonedible version.

Student Worksheets:  Incredible Cells (pdf)

Another idea ...
Science Wear
- Aprons, Shirts, or Lab Coats decorated with cells as well as options for astronomy, chemistry, and more! Thanks to Jody Hodges for developing this great project!  Students use permanent markers or fabric paint to create their own attire by coloring the lettering and adding diagrams of cells.  Visit her webpage on Facebook for more details and pictures of completed projects!   


| Back to top |

Construction Zone (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL with inspiration from Stacy Baker)
Targeted Concepts:  Living things, cells (plant and animal), organelles and their functions

This project was created for 5th grade students at my school to give them an "inside" view of a cell. Students work as construction teams to build a 3-D model of a cell. They are required to label the organelles with names and functions. Students have used PVC pipe for frames or obtained large boxes from our local appliance store. Students also use the sites on the Biology page of the Kid Zone and their textbooks to research the organelles.

Student Worksheet: Construction Zone (pdf)


Classroom Cell (T. Tomm & C. McDaniel, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Living things, cells (plant and animal), organelles and their functions

Print out the Classroom Cell necklaces and assign "jobs" to the students that mimic the organelles' jobs in the cell.  For example, the teacher would be the nucleus who directs that activities of the cell, while a student that is a lysosome would help "clean up" the classroom each day. Our 6th grade teacher uses this activity and I refer back to it while discussing cells and organelles in our 7th & 8th grade lessons.  It is one of the lessons they remember!

| Back to top |

Mitosis Flip Books (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Mitosis, cell division, organelles and their functions

This project (passed down to me from a fellow teacher) is based on the old cartoon flip book idea. Students use template cards (printed on cover stock or glued to index cards) to create a booklet that illustrates the steps involved in cell division. After reviewing the stages in cell division (see the Mitosis Note page below), I provide a set of templates (see Mitosis Book below) for them to use to make a flip book. From phase to phase, they must draw diagrams to show the changes that occur throughout the process. I encourage "color coding" to make the end effect easy to follow. Once all the Pages are completed and in the correct order, students use a heavy duty stapler to bind them together. They can flip through the pages and "see" mitosis in action.

Mitosis Flip Books

Also available ...

| Back to top |

Genetics with a Smile (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Living things, genetics, inherited traits, genotype, phenotype, dominant/recessive

During this activity students use pennies to determine the traits for a smiley face, then use Microsoft Word to create the smiley face. After students have completed the faces, I display them in the classroom and have students use their knowledge of genetics to answer questions about smiley faces, traits, and probability.

Student Worksheets:

A few of the smiley faces created by my students!

Other ideas to try...
•  Connect with another classroom and share your results with them! Challenge students to summarize the similarities and differences between the smileys created in your school and those at your partner school.
• Challenge your students to pair up two smileys as "new" parents and then flip a penny to determine the traits for a new baby. The students can then draw the baby smiley and compare the results to the parent smileys. (Thanks to Nancy Nega for this great idea!)
• Another twist for the new baby idea - instead of making just one baby, have the students create a display that shows the possible outcomes if two smileys had a baby. Students can provide expected rates of occurrence for each trait based on the parent's traits and compare those to the results of their classmates.

Other goodies for genetics...

  • Punnet Square Practice - Thanks to Peggy Lenz for sharing this powerpoint and directions that she uses to review for the test. 

  • Genetics with Sponge Bob (pdf) - What happens when SpongeBob SquarePants marries SpongeSusie RoundPants? Explore the genetics of Sponge Bob and his pals with this fun worksheet! An answer key is provided! 
  • Genetics with SpongeBob 2 (pdf) - A second helping of Bikini Bottom fun exploring the genetics of SpongeBob and his pals! An answer key is provided.
  • Genetics with SpongeBob - Incomplete Dominance (pdf) - This worksheet provides several practice problems related to incomplete dominance with Poofkins (a special kind of flower) and Goobers (a special breed of jellyfish!) An answer key is provided.
    Also available Codomiance vs. Incomplete Dominance (pdf) - A version of the  worksheet above that includes co-dominance for the Poofkins (flowers) and incomplete dominance for the Goobers (jellyfish). An answer key is provided.
  • Genetics with SpongeBob - Dihybrid (pdf) - This worksheet was contributed by Andrea Stonebraker and challenges students to complete dihybird crosses.
  • Genetics with SpongeBob Review (pdf) - Use this worksheet to review Punnett Squares. An answer key is provided.
  • SpongeBob Genetics Quiz (pdf) - Challenge your students to use their knowledge of genetics with this SpongeBob quiz.
  • NOTE:  SpongeBob SquarePants and all related characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.
  • Genetics Challenge puzzle (pdf) - I use this worksheet to review key terms from our unit on genetics.
  • Genetics Word Search (pdf) - A word search with terms from genetics as well as an added challenge related to scientists who have made contributions to the field of genetics! Challenge Answers:  Chargaff, Crick, Watson, Franklin, Mendel, and Wilkins
  • Genetics Ethics - This powerpoint provides links to three online videos along with related discussion questions to explore the ethical issues surrounding genetics and genetic engineering.

  • DNA Challenge (pdf) - How many words can you make from the letters in deoxyribonucleic acid? The record in my classroom is 763! Way to go, Alicia J.!
  • Want more ideas for genetics? Visit the Genetics Lesson Plan Links page!

| Back to top |


DNA Keychains
Targeted Concepts:  DNA, structure (nucleotides, backbone), replication

My students make DNA key chains (original idea from DNA Jewelry that was part of the Access Excellence Collection) from beads and wire and then use them for a lesson about DNA replication.

Activity Files:

  • DNA Keychain Guide (pdf) - Provides an overview of the activity as well as list of materials, tips, and a student guide.
  • DNA Keychains (PPT) - A Power Point presentation to use as students make the keychains and includes an answer key for the DNA Replication activity listed below.
  • DNA Replication (pdf) - Explore the replication process using the student-made keychains. The worksheet also introduces the process of protein synthesis.

|Back to top |

Protein Power Game (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  DNA, RNA, structure (nucleotides, backbone), replication, protein synthesis, cell organelles and their functions

I developed this game to help my students understand the process of protein synthesis and reinforce the functions of various cell organelles.  It was a big hit with the kids and we referred back to it many times throughout the unit. Although it may be challenging at first, the students quickly catch on to the "jobs" and compete to see which class could get the fastest time!

Game Files:

Also available ...

  • Cell Organelle Chart (pdf) - Students cut apart small cards to use to complete the chart that outlines the functions of each organelle as well as memory clues that can be used to help them remember the functions.  I allow my students to use their own memory clues if they want to create their own. 

  • Cell Diagram Coloring Page (pdf) - This worksheet contains two diagrams (animal cell and plant cell) along with a color key they can use to customize their worksheet. 

  • Protein Synthesis Drama (Submitted by Steve Tester, Alexandria City Public Schools, VA)
    For this activity exploring protein synthesis, students are assigned roles and and play different parts of the protein synthesis process. Download the files below for complete details.
    Project Worksheets - Protein Synthesis Outline (pdf) and Protein Synthesis Activity Codes (pdf)

| Back to top |

Egg-cellent Ideas for Osmosis and Diffusion (Submitted by Sue Remshak, Lake Bluff Middle School, Lake Bluff, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Cell processes, osmosis, diffustion, science process skills (observations, hypothesis, data collection, analysis)

During this activity students investigate the concepts of osmosis and diffusion using eggs. To prepare for the activity, have students carefully measure and record the circumference of the raw egg as well as its mass. Place the egg in a beaker filled with white vinegar and allow time for students to record their observations. Store the eggs in a refrigerator for 24 hours. Allow time for students to record their observations. Return the egg to the refrigerator for another 24 hours. After 48 hours have elapsed, observe the egg's appearance. Students should carefully remove the egg from the beaker and record its measurements. Allow time for students to write an explanation of their observations using the correct vocabulary.
Teacher Info: A chemical reaction occurs between the vinegar and the calcium carbonate in the egg shell. The bubbles of carbon dioxide that form on the egg and rise to the surface are evidence of this reaction. The shell dissolves in the vinegar and leaves a film on the surface of the vinegar. However, the membrane remains on the egg. The size of the egg increases because of the movement of water in the vinegar through the cell membrane. Since water moves from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration, this process is called osmosis. Obviously, none of the materials on the inside of the egg are able to pass through the membrane.

For the second portion of the activity, you will need plain water, blue water (food coloring in water), molasses, and corn syrup. First, have the students determine the mass of the egg and record it in the table. They should pour 150 ml of each substance into its own beaker. Add the eggs and store in a refrigerator for 24 hours. After 24 hours, have the students remove the eggs from the beakers and record their observations. Students should record the volume of liquid in the beaker as well as the mass of the egg. Finally, have the students use a toothpick to pop the egg membrane and record their observations. Be sure to have paper towels handy as some eggs may squirt!) Allow time for students to write an explanation of their observations using the correct vocabulary.
Teacher Info: The egg in plain water and blue water will become slightly larger because water will pass into egg through the membrane by the process of osmosis. There will be blue food coloring in the egg from the blue water since both water and food coloring can pass through the membrane. The egg in corn syrup and molasses will decrease in size because water from inside the egg flow through the membrane into the syrup or molasses. It moves from a higher concentration inside the egg to a lower concentration in the corn syrup. Once again, this is called osmosis. The corn syrup and molasses molecules are too large to pass through the membrane. Observant students will not only notice an increase of volume in the beaker, but they will also see a thin layer of water resting on top of the syrup and molasses.

To illustrate the concept of diffusion, add a drop or two of extract (vanilla, bubble gum, lemon, or cinnamon) into a deflated balloon. Blow up the balloon, tie it off, and place inside a shoe box. To make sure the lid stays on the box, use masking tape to secure it. During class, ask students to life one end of the shoe box lid and smell the contents. Their eyes should remain closed when they do this. Ask each student to reveal what they smelled. Show the class what was inside the box and instruct them to draw a picture and record their observations. Challenge students to write an explanation (using the correct vocabulary) of why the box smells like the scent when it was only put inside the balloon.
Teacher Info: The shoe box smelled of the scent even though it was only placed on the inside of the balloon due to the process of diffusion. Every balloon has microscopic holes in its surface. The vapors were able to pass through the membrane from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. However, the liquid scent molecules were too large to pass through the membrane.

Another way to illustrate osmosis and diffusion is using a tea bag and some water. During class, place a tea bag in a beaker of warm water. Allow time for students to record their observations. Challenge them to write an explanation using the correct vocabulary.
Teacher Info: Water flows by osmosis into the tea bag. The students can see this if you remove the tea bag from the beaker and squeeze it to see the water come out. The tea leaves diffuse through the tea bag and into the water; this changes both the color and flavor of the water in the beaker.

Student Worksheet: Osmosis & Diffusion (html)

 | Back to top |

Human Body Activities (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted Concepts:  Living things, organization (cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, organisms), body systems, health, diseases

I have listed below several activities and worksheets related to the body systems that I used during my Health unit for 7th & 8th graders. I no longer teach Health, but thought that the lessons would be useful to those of you who do.

  • Skeletal & Muscular System Crossword puzzle (pdf)
  • Nervous System Crossword puzzle (pdf)
  • Human Body System Review (pdf) - This worksheet was used as a review page after completing a chapter on the body systems.
  • Human Body System Challenge (pdf) - A challenging word search puzzle - the students must find 31 terms and then classify them into the various body systems.
  • The Organ Trail  - Challenge your students to create a "Wanted" poster about an organ. This download provides project guidelines, student information, and project worksheets.  Links for students can be found on the Health & Human Body links page of the Kid Zone.
  • Human Body Quest (pdf) - This project challenges students to work in teams to create a PowerPoint presentation related to one of the human body systems. The download provides student instructions, A+ grade checklist, presentation planner (draft), and checklist pages for each body system assigned for this project. This project was developed by Lauren Range, Robyn Smith, and Tracy (Trimpe) Tomm.

    Thanks to Deb Costolnick for sharing the worksheets and rubrics she uses for her version of the Human Body Quest project main project description, power point rubric, and the presentation rubric. The  power point rubric includes a category for the use of technology. One of the goals of this project was to introduce students to collaborative work via Google apps for education. She also used a peer evaluation rubric to allow students to grade each other and averaged the scores for their collaboration grade. 

More lessons for Biology are available at
The Nature Center - Lesson Page - Explore an assortment of lesson ideas and links to explore the natural world.
Adopt-An-Insect Project
- Activities, Worksheets, and links to investigate the insect world!
Eagle Days Lessons & Resources - Explore the world of bald eagles with your students!


Also visit Lesson Plan Links for Biology - Links to my favorite online resources for lesson plans, activities, and worksheets.

Check out "wearable" science projects at!

| Back to top |


Privacy Policy

© 2019
The Science Spot was developed in March 1999 by Tracy Tomm
Science Teacher @ Havana Junior High, Havana, IL

Activities, lessons, & worksheets available on any page of this web site are intended for use by a single teacher in his/her classroom or to share at educational conferences. Please link to resources rather than download them to your own server/website. Reproduction for commercial use or profit is not permitted without the consent of Tracy Tomm. Visit my Frequently Asked Questions page for more details.