Evolution and Inheritance

Year 6

Unit Overview

In the Evolution and Inheritance project, your child will learn about the five kingdoms scientists group living things into based on their characteristics. They will discuss what fossils are, revisit how they form and learn about the fossil record before classifying fossils, using what they have learned about the features of living things. Children will discuss the theory of evolution and the scientists who founded it in the 19th century, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace, learning that all living things on Earth are related and have gradually changed over time. They will learn that fossils and the DNA of extinct and living things provide evidence for the theory of evolution and then study a scientific diagram called an evolutionary tree, identifying the relationships between past and present-day living things. Children will learn the meaning of the terms 'inheritance' and 'variation' and how evolution relies on them. They will discuss examples of inherited and non-inherited features and continuous and discontinuous variation within humans before collecting and displaying class data about eye colour as a bar chart and heights as a line graph. They will revisit the meaning of 'adaptation' and use new scientific terminology, including 'natural selection and 'survival of the fittest'. They will learn about adaptation in animals by investigating how birds' beaks have changed over time to improve their ability to catch and eat specific foods. They will learn about adaptation in plants, including structural, behavioural and chemical adaptations, and then investigate the leaves of trimmed and untrimmed holly plants, observing how holly plants can adapt to become spikier to survive. They will complete their learning by holding a class debate about artificial selection using evidence from research and presenting an argument for and against its use.


Through drama and roleplay, children will begin the unit by putting themselves in the position of being Darwin's assistant on his voyage to the Galapagos Islands.


Biography about Charles Darwin.

Job description for an Assistant naturalist


Outdoor learning in the school grounds and drama lessons in natural habitats.

Unit Sequence: Learning Intentions

  1. Classifying fossils: To recognise that living things have changed over time and fossils provide information about living things that inhabited the Earth millions of years ago

  2. The Theory of Evolution: To understand the theory of evolution and Darwin's theory and findings.

  3. Inheritance: To explain that evolution relies on passing on a material called DNA from one generation to the next

  4. Natural selection and survival of the fittest: To investigate the concept of evolution and the meaning of variation within a species.

  5. Exploring plant adaptations: To identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways and that adaptation may lead to evolution.

  6. Artificial selection: To recognise that living things produce offspring of the same kind, but normally offspring vary and are not identical to their parent

Scientific Enquiry: Investigations

  1. How have eyes evolved?

  1. Why is holly prickly?

  1. How does inheritance work?

  1. Can we slow cooling down?

  1. Why do birds have different beaks?


Performance of job adverts to try and persuade the class to take the job.


Evolution and Inheritance by Nichola Tyrrell

The DNA book: Discover what makes you you.

Mary Anning (Science superstars) by Robert Snedded

Our Hairy Past: Evolution and Life on Earth by Nancy Dickmann