This activity should be completed with students after initial instruction on learned and inherited traits.
Students should each have a model of an animal on their desks when they arrive.
Begin the activity by discussing which animal each student has. If a student struggles with what animal he/she has, provide assistance as necessary but only after giving the student time to think about it. One student in my class thought the animal was a zebra which was a logical thought given that the animal this student was observing was a horse. He was prompted that the animal didn't have stripes and was able to determine that the animal was a horse from that clue.Talk about characteristics of each student's animal in groups of two or three students.
If possible, have a teacher or teacher assistant with each group or mill around the class to support each group.
Students may have questions about certain traits of their animals.
Once the students are comfortable with some of the animal's basic characteristics, have each group make a list of inherited characteristics of each animal and learned characteristics. If students know how ot build a T-chart, this would be appropriate.
Otherwise, have students create 2 lists in print and/or braille.
I found that students struggled to think of learned characteristics. Some of the learned characteristics that occured to the groups were characteristics that describe various ways that the animals have learned behavior from humans. Examples were herding cattle, performing in a circus, or taming a horse.
Discuss the learned and inherited traits described for each animal.