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Genetic Ingredients

What You Need: Photos of parents and grandparents, and great-grandparents if possible; mirror; photocopy of a photo of the child's face; large sheet of paper; glue; pen/pencil.

Doing It:

This is an activity a child can do with the help of a parent or grandparent.

We all inherit different traits from our parents and grandparents. Each person is a mixture of the people who came before him or her, and has a specific genetic "recipe" made up of specific "ingredients" from each parent and grandparent. Almost at birth, a child is described as having "her mother's eyes" or "his grandfather's nose." Some traits may skip a generation, appearing in you and your grandparent, but not in your parent (e.g. you and your grandmother may have a talent for drawing, but your mother can't draw at all).

A child can start by getting a photo of each of their parents and grandparents (and great-grandparents if available). Try to get photos with the faces as large as possible. Sit in front of a mirror and study each feature of your face, noticing its size, shape, and color. Compare your face to the faces in the photos.

Now glue a photocopy of a photo of your face onto a large sheet of paper. Draw an arrow to each of your features and write down the person you think you got that feature from. Facial features include your hair color, eyes, eyebrows, nose, cheekbones, mouth, chin, freckles, ears.

In one corner of the sheet, make a list of your traits other than facial features (e.g. artistic interest, athletic ability, mathematical skill, scientific interest, a love of reading, etc.) and write down which parent or grandparent each trait may have come from.

Talk about your chart and observations with your parents and grandparents. Do they agree or disagree with your comparisons? Do they have any of their own observations to add?

From Grandparents Day Activity Kit © Susan V. Bosak