A Recipe for Traits

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In this genetics activity, learners create and decode a “DNA recipe” for a dog by randomly selecting strips of paper that represent DNA. Then, learners decode the DNA recipe to reveal the physical traits of their dog and create a final drawing of the organism. Learners discover that differences in the DNA recipe lead to different traits by comparing their DNA recipes and dog drawings with the rest of the group to note similarities and differences. This guide features handouts for learners in English and Spanish.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, Spanish


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • Patterns of Heredity
      • DNA Structure and Function
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Representation

Informal Categories

  • Animals


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Malone, Molly ; Mitchell, April ; Kiger, Steven

Source Collection

  • Teach.Genetics


  • All rights reserved, University of Utah, 2006

Funding Sources:

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Precollege Science Education Initiative for Biomedical Research Institutions Award, 51000125
  • Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Genetic Services Branch and the March of Dimes, U33MC00157