Adaptation by natural selection teaching resources

Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about the adaptations of organisms (GCSE and Key Stage 3)

Adaptation: “Any feature of an organism that allows it to survive in its habitat”. It is important that teaching adaptation doesn’t turn into a Just So story – not every feature of an organism is the result of natural selection. All objects must have a shape and a colour, so we can’t always assume that features are advantageous; they could be neutral. There are some fantastic adaptations that students can research. Don’t forget about plants, fungi and slime moulds! The video below is a great starting point. It show a particularly exciting adaptation of Mimosa pudica.

Where to start?

Check out the glass frog from the Andean cloud forest and see if students can come up with a hypothesis as to why this adaptation (transparent skin) could be an advantage.

Is it an adaptation?

GCSE worksheet on adaptation. Students come up with hypotheses about why leaf curling is an advantage to Mimosa plants. They work in groups to plan an experiment to test one of their theories. It encourages students to think critically about how difficult it can be to prove a specific feature of an organism is actually an adaptation that brings about an advantage. (PDF)

Adaptations for different habitats

Visit this page for resources on habitats and adaptations

Thinking deeper

  • If organisms are adapted to their environment, why do they go extinct?
  • Can an organism adapt in its life-time?
  • Suggest why zebras have stripes. How would you test your hypothesis in the field?
  1. Adaptation 
  2. Evidence for evolution
  3. Evolution by natural selection 
  4. Bioinformatics
  5. Variation

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