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  • 3rd Grade

    Inheritance and Variation of Traits

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death. 3-LS1-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Analyze and 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. 3-LS3-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment. 3-LS3-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing. 3-LS4-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to introducing quantitative approaches to collecting data and conducting multiple trials of qualitative observations. When possible and feasible, digital tools should be used.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to the use of evidence in constructing explanations that specify variables that describe and predict phenomena and in designing multiple solutions to design problems.

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RI.3.1 - Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers. (3-LS3-1), (3-LS3-2), (3-LS4-2)
  • RI.3.2 - Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea. (3-LS3-1), (3-LS3-2), (3-LS4-2)
  • RI.3.3 - Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect. (3-LS3-1), (3-LS3-2), (3-LS4-2)
  • RI.3.7 - Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur). (3-LS1-1)
  • SL.3.4 - Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace. (3-LS3-1), (3-LS3-2), (3-LS4-2)
  • SL.3.5 - Create engaging audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate fluid reading at an understandable pace; add visual displays when appropriate to emphasize or enhance certain facts or details. (3-LS1-1)
  • W.3.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. (3-LS3-1), (3-LS3-2), (3-LS4-2)


  • 3.MD.B.3 - Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step "how many more" and "how many less" problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs. (3-LS4-2)
  • 3.MD.B.4 - Generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rulers marked with halves and fourths of an inch. Show the data by making a line plot, where the horizontal scale is marked off in appropriate units— whole numbers, halves, or quarters. (3-LS3-1), (3-LS3-2)
  • 3.NBT - Number and Operations in Base Ten. (3-LS1-1)
  • 3.NF - Number and Operations—Fractions (3-LS1-1)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (3-LS3-1), (3-LS3-2), (3-LS4-2)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (3-LS1-1), (3-LS3-1), (3-LS3-2), (3-LS4-2)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • The book Cactus Hotel, written by Brenda Z. Guiberson and illustrated by Megan Lloyd, presents the 200 year life cycle of a saguaro cactus and its relationship to the animals in its desert habitat. The cactus' interdependence with other plants an ...

  • A ninety second video of a chameleon changing from a dark blue-green to a bright orange-yellow color. This resource evaluation suggests how teachers might use the phenomena of color changing chameleons to introduce the concept of ...

  • Students will learn about frog, toad, and chameleon tongues, construct a sticky tongue, use the sticky tongue model to catch prey, and then analyze the data from the activity to see how the sticky tongue helped the frog to catch food in dif ...

  • Students explore and develop an understanding of a variety of animal life cycles through reading and research, investigation and data collection, mathematical analysis, and presentation in this five lesson unit. In Session 1, students read ...

  • Students are introduced to the concept of interdependence in an ecosystem and its effect on the evolution of populations through a family of rabbits that include five offspring: one small rabbit, three medium sized rabbits, and one large ra ...

  • This formative assessment probe originally appeared in Uncovering Student Ideas in Science (Keeley, P., F. Eberle, and C. Dorsey. 2008. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press ). In this Science and Children article, Page Keeley outlines various ways it might ...

  • Student use a simulation activity to discover that plants that look alike can have different types of roots, that plants with different types of roots can thrive in soils that have different amounts of moisture, and that plants ca ...

  • This is an interdisciplinary, 5E unit that begins with students becoming animal detectives to explore the school habitat, moves on to students watching wolf families on a webcam, and ends with students forming groups to become&nbs ...

  • Students raise butterflies and moths: observing, comparing, and contrasting their life cycles. Students will note the similarities of these organisms metamophosis (same stages, same order) and the differences (the amount of time t ...

  •   This article gives suggestions for building a simple walk-in classroom butterfly observatory and using the observatory to hatch out Painted Lady butterflies as part of a four-week unit on life cycle stages.

  •   This article describes a ladybug life cycle unit that incorporates language arts and science concepts. Students build on their prior knowledge of butterflies as they explore the metamorphosis of ladybugs. To create their final project, clay ...

  • Students learn about the life cycle of pea plants by planting peas and observing their through their stages of development. Students write and illustrate a book about their pea plant life cycle experience, which functions as a stu ...

  • Groups of students set up a small freshwater aquarium (made from gallon jars) that feature a male guppy, a female guppy, and a green plant. After the female guppy goes through her pregnancy and gives birth, the students will then observe, over time, ...

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.