National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Paint's Family Tree
3 - 5
Students will explore the complexity of heredity by studying horses and creating a horse’s family tree.
- Illustrations of Working Horses for display
- Paint’s Family Tree Skit dialogue, 1 per student
- Trait Summary activity sheet, 1 per student
- Paint’s Family Tree activity sheet, 1 per pair of students
- Paint’s Family Tree Master for display (it may be helpful to color this)
- Family Tree Horse activity sheet, 1 per student
- 1 large sheet of butcher or chart paper
- Glue, glue sticks, or tape
- Colored pencils for each team of students
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Family Tree Horse Activity Sheet
- Paint's Family Tree Skit
- Trait Summary Activity Sheet
- Paint's Family Tree Master
- Paint's Family Tree Activity Sheet
- Illustrations of Working Horses
Thoroughbred: a breed of horse that is used mainly for racing
draft horse: a horse adapted for or used in drawing heavy loads, generally over 1600 pounds in weight and over 16 hands high
inherited: a trait passed from parent to offspring
offspring: the child or young of two parents
trait: a distinguishing characteristic or quality
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Horses have lived on Earth for more than 50 million years.1
- It is believed that horses were first domesticated in Central Asia around 4000 BC for meat and milk.2
- Today, there are more than 400 different breeds of horses.1
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Show students the Illustrations of Working Horses, and ask them to describe the type of work each horse is doing.
- As a class, brainstorm what characteristics would make a horse good at each type of work, and write them on the board. For example, a horse that helps herd cows needs to be agile and good at working with people, cows, dogs, and other horses; a racehorse needs to be fast and have good stamina; and a draft horse needs to be strong, willing to work, and easy to handle.
- Explain to students that over time, people have selectively bred horses for specialized traits that make them suited for certain kinds of work. In order to breed horses to meet specific objectives, it is important to understand how traits are passed from parents to offspring, and that is what will be explored in this lesson.
- Choose four students (two girls and two boys) to play the roles in the skit, Paint’s Family Tree. Have them read and act out the skit.
- Give each student a copy of the skit and a Trait Summary activity sheet. Allow students to read the skit and fill out the activity sheet individually.
- After students have completed the Trait Summary, break them up into pairs.
- Give each pair of students a copy of the Paint’s Family Tree activity sheet. Have them color this sheet according to how they filled out the information on the Trait Summary activity sheet. They should also label each horse with its name and relationship to Paint (see Paint’s Family Tree Master). Doing this in pairs will help students to correct any mistakes they may have made on the Trait Summary activity sheet.
- Next, divide the students into seven groups, and give each group a Family Tree Horse activity sheet. Assign each group a different member of Paint’s family. The group must come to a consensus on how to color their family member using their previously colored family trees. They may need to refer back to the skit for verification.
- When each group is finished, review with them the Paint’s Family Tree Master. Students may have put socks and spots in different places; that’s okay. (When horses are registered in the “real world,” the spots and socks are noted while looking at the horse so that the markings are accurate. This illustration then becomes part of the horse’s registration). Have the groups make corrections to their horses’ colors and markings only if they are obviously wrong; if not, proceed to the next step.
- Post the large sheet of butcher or chart paper in an accessible location. Have each group place their horse on the paper in the appropriate location to form a family tree. Ask the group to describe their horse’s traits. Have students draw lines between the horses to show lines of descent between generations.
- As a class, discuss the similarities and differences in traits among the family members and how each trait might have been inherited. Point out to students that traits are inherited from both parents. However, these traits are not always expressed in every generation (such as the blue eyes that Paint and his maternal grandmother have). Consider using the following questions to further the discussion:
- What traits were unique to Paint?
- Can you name other inherited traits that may not be visible?
- From which relatives did Paint get the black on his tail and mane? His white face? His temperament?
- If another animal (pig, chicken, cow, etc.) were chosen, would you be able to determine from which parent its traits may have been inherited? How would you do it?
- Imagine that Kuan’s family ranch wants to start giving tours using horse-drawn wagons. What characteristics would make their horses suited to this kind of work? What could they do to make sure that the next generation of horses is well suited to pulling wagons?
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Traits are passed from parents to offspring.
- Ranchers and farmers use knowledge of inherited traits to breed animals like horses to meet specific objectives.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Invite a horse breeder to come to your class as a guest speaker.
Further explore the use of draft horses by showing students the video Introduction to Draft Animal Power from the Cornell Small Farms Program.
Then, use the Living History Farm page titled Horses Finally Lose their Jobs to help lead a discussion about the pros and cons of farming with horses and farming with tractors.
Suggested Companion Resources
- First Peas to the Table (Book)
- In the Garden with Dr. Carver (Book)
- Pompom Punnett Square Kit (Kit)
- Heredity (UEN Sci-Ber Text for 5th Grade) (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
- Identify examples of how the knowledge of inherited traits is applied to farmed plants and animals in order to meet specific objectives (i.e., increased yields, better nutrition, etc.) (T4.3-5.c)
Education Content Standards
3-LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
3-LS3-1Analyze the interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.