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Blog / How to Teach Genetics Using Halloween Examples
Banner image for blog post with image on the right of two Halloween pumpkins against a night sky and text on the left that reads, “Teach Genetics using Halloween examples”.

How to Teach Genetics Using Halloween Examples

Witches, vampires, and ghosts – oh my! Spooky season is upon us, my friends! 

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Halloween than combining two of my favorite things – biology and Google Slides activities! 

If you’ve read my post on 6 reasons why I love using Google Slides in the classroom, you already know I am a Google Slides convert. But, if you haven’t read it, check it out to see why I love using Google Slides in the classroom. 

When it comes to biology, genetics is one of my all-time favorite topics to teach! Most students find genetics exciting and ask a lot of great questions.  

Why do some siblings look alike and others don’t?

How do the genes we inherit determine what we look like? 

What makes every person unique? 

*WARNING: There is a “but” coming.* 

But… genetics can be a difficult concept to understand. That’s why I created my Halloween Genetics Google Slides! This Halloween activity has everything you need – teacher materials, scaffolded activities, and good ol’ Halloween biology fun. 

Before we take a deeper look into this resource, check out a preview video.

Let’s go, ghouls and goblins!

Use spooky characteristics for phenotypes

A laptop showing an activity slide from my Halloween Genetics Google Slides

When students open the presentation, there is a quick review of common genetics vocabulary terms.

Students always ask for a review, right?

Once students are familiar with genetics vocabulary, they will practice sorting different genotypes into homozygous dominant, heterozygous, and homozygous recessive.

Now we get into the spooky characteristics!

Students are asked to determine Frankenstein phenotypes based upon given genotypes.

These include:

  • Green or yellow skin
  • Flat teeth or pointed teeth
  • Six fingers or eight fingers!

Once students are comfortable using genotypes to work out phenotypes, they’ll move onto carving pumpkins…

Students create their own pumpkins

Orange background with a laptop showing the create-a-pumpkin activity of the Halloween Genetics Google Slides resource, where students use an online spinner to produce genotypes.

No Halloween activity is complete without some pumpkins! 

To create their first pumpkins, students are given the genotypes. Your students will then report the correct phenotypes using a given chart. Based on the phenotypes, students will drag and drop the pumpkin pieces to create their pumpkin. *insert chef’s kiss emoji here*

Easy peasy! 

Here comes the really fun part. 

Students will now use an online spinner to determine unique genotypes (and phenotypes). Each pumpkin will be different! Just as they did before, students will drag the pumpkin pieces to create their spooky pumpkin! 

Practice Punnett Squares by creating unique witches

Purple background with a computer showing one of the spin-a-genotype slides to create a witch of the Halloween Genetics Google Slides resource.

Let’s create a witch! 

He he he. Double, double toil and trouble! 

This Halloween Genetics resource ends with a culminating activity that puts everything together. 

Students will be completing SIX Punnett Squares to create their own unique witch. Talk about practice, right? Your students will be master geneticists by the end of this assignment! 

Each student will use an online spinner to generate parental genotypes for each trait. Students will cross these using a Punnett Square and reveal the genotype for their own unique witch.

Then they work out the witch’s phenotype – e.g. purple eyes or green eyes.

Students will be engaged as they drag and drop the characteristic to create their witch.

They repeat this for a total of six spooky traits to end up with a unique witch.

Then, at the end, they can add extra elements and even give their witch a name! 

Are you ready for some Halloween Genetics fun?

I know your time is limited as a teacher. That’s why I have done all of the work for you. 

This resource includes a complete Teacher Guidance page. This page walks you through the types of activities in this genetics resource and how to assign it in Google Classroom.

An iPad with a teacher guidance document for Halloween Genetics. It is sitting on top of an orange background with bats and spiders.

This Halloween Genetics activity also includes two instructional videos for students. They are already embedded directly into the Google Slides for you. Not only is this less work for you, but it also encourages students to be independent learners

A laptop showing an instructional video for how to create your pumpkin

A full set of answer slides is included for you.

The answers are animated – this lets you question students before revealing the correct answer. 

Each student’s pumpkin and witch creation will be different, so the answer slides can be used as reminders for students. 

A laptop showing the build a pumpkin activity with text on top stating that everyone's pumpkins will be different

Genetics can be difficult, but it can be easy and fun with our Halloween Genetics Google Slides!

Aside from learning genetics, this resource also provides the following:

  1. Encouraging students to be independent learners
  2. Improving student dialogue as they compare and contrast their pumpkins and witches

Check out the Halloween Genetics for Google Slides resource today. Your class will have a scary good time! 

I hope you have a spooky day,

Emma The Teachie