Mendelian Genetics From Beyond The Stars!

In order to explore classic Mendelian Genetics, we have created the Genetians from Planet Mendel!

These friendly aliens are simple and fun folks that show four easily identifiable traits. They have gender, being either male or female shown by blue or pink skin. They exhibit either 4 or 6 tentacles for legs in a pattern that shows complete dominance! Their antennae are the perfect example of incomplete dominance, with full grown or absent antennae in the homozygotes, but an intermediate little antenna in the heterozygotes! Lastly, their spots are coloured either yellow or yellow and exhibit co-dominance. In homozygotes, their spots are either all yellow or all green, but the heterozygotes have an even smattering of both!

We have created a series of 36 high resolution, print-ready digital images of the aliens, one for every possible permutation (2 genders x 2 possible tentacle numbers x 3 possible antenna size x 3 possible spot colours = 36 possible aliens!) These may be used in multiple ways! Cut them out and laminate them as part of a reusable interactive group activity! Shrink them down and throw them on a worksheet! Throw them into a presentation to illustrate genetics, their transparent background makes them ready for anything! They are only as versatile as your imagination, so go wild!

A Sample Lesson Plan

Course: SB13U/SB13C

Unit: Genetic Processes

Lesson: Punnett Squares

Overall Expectations: 

  • Investigate genetic processes and analyze data to solve basic genetic problems involving monohybrid and dihybrid crosses. (Ontario Curriculum)
  • Students should be able to understand and explain the terminology associated with Punnett Squares.

Specific Expectaions:

  • Use the Punnett Square method to solve basic genetic problems involving monohybrid crosses, incomplete dominance, co-dominance, dihybrid crosses and sex-linked genes. (Ontario Curriculum).
  • Students should be able to create a Punnett Square if they are given the genotype and/or phenotype.

Introductory Activity: 

  • Start off the class with an Anticipation Guide activity to get the students thinking about genetics and the idea of inheritance.
  • Put a tally chart on the board and for each question write down how many of the students thought the question was “likely” or “unlikely” to be true.
  • Read out the statements to the class and ask for a vote by having the students raise their hand for likely or unlikely.
  • Briefly discuss why students answered in this way.

Main Lesson:

  • Have the students take notes on the main lecture about genetics.
  • Key words to be covered: homozygous, heterozygous, dominant, recessive, genes, inheritance, co-dominance genotype, phenotype, monohybrid cross, dihybrid cross, Punnett Square, allele, trait
  • Present PowerPoint introducing key words and going through the steps of creating a Punnett Square
  • Go through simple examples with the class, on the board, on creating Punnett Squares and determining probability. Lead into closing activity.

Closing Activity:

  • Have the class split into groups of 2 students to work on the worksheet.  Worksheet will be asking questions about different cutouts of aliens and determining whether traits are dominant or recessive.
  • The final question of this exercise will be using the cutouts package that will require students to determine what the genotypes are for each alien.
  • Students will hand in worksheet at the end of class (or take for homework – time permitting)


  • Worksheet
  • Tested on Punnett Squares on a later date

Next Day

  • Take up homework at the beginning of class (if needed)
  • Dihybrid cross Punnett Squares
  • Sex-linked genes


  • Worksheets (1 per student)
  • Cutout packs (1 per pair of students)
  • Projector/Smartboard and computer for powerpoint presentation
  • Black/Green/White board

Praxis Paper for Sample Lesson Plan

Punnett Squares are a valuable tool when teaching the theory associated with Mendelian Genetics because it is a simple starting point for the basic laws. In a favourable learning environment, this skill can assist analysis of basic genetics by offering simple manipulations of known factors to attain possible unknown factors.

To facilitate learning, an acquisition guide has been created and utilized in the introduction as a means to assess prior knowledge, to utilize some basic terminology in context, as well as to spark interest in the topic at hand. Terminology will be introduced and reinforced frequently throughout instructional discourse to ensure that students are given ample opportunity to get comfortable with the language. Every effort will be made to ensure that students have a uniform foundation of critical terminology by encouraging students to share their understanding with others in a safe and inclusive atmosphere or seek assistance, if necessary.

To promote effective learning, examples are collectively shared in a constructive manner, whereby learning is appropriately scaffolded through modeling with a skilled educator. After the successful completion of multiple exemplars as a class, the students will be placed into mutually-beneficial groups to collaborate with scenarios that transfer and reinforce the concepts presented from the lesson.

In today’s classroom, the need for differentiation is paramount with an increase in student diversity. (Vacca, Vacca & Mraz, 2013). Sensitive recognition of an individual’s strengths and needs is a skill and a necessity. Thus, we are mindful of the potential for dominant or recessive human characteristics being misconstrued. To ensure that insinuations of preferential or exclusionary representations were impossible; we address genetics utilizing the fictitious form of alien modeling. The lecture also integrates multiple forms of literacy through tools embedded in the lesson and activity that tap into many learning styles. The presentation offers visual and aural component as the form of stimulus to benefit either type of learner. As well, a portion of the activity is hands-on to facilitate the kinesthetic learners. The PowerPoint and worksheet appeal to those learners who benefit from the reading and writing component of education, with a story added to the worksheet. Additionally, students are given freedom to apply their own shorthand to answers, thus encouraging students to find meaning in their integration process.

To master the skills of the Punnett Squares, the student must practice repeatedly through an assortment of unique and innovative configurations, to ensure that retention will not be a challenge. To strengthen connections and support authentic learning, the culminating activity highlights both inductive and deductive methods of learning. By utilizing an activity that incorporates both general and specific models of learning, students can make a greater connection between how answers are obtained, as well as, how to work backward from answers. As stated in the text (pg 139) “…practice sessions are designed to provide experience with the strategy. Students should reach a point where they have internalized the steps and feel in control of the strategy.” As a means of endorsing this internalization, evaluation of the worksheet to ensure and maximize comfort with Punnett Squares is suggested.

As we strive to be the most effective teacher possible, we must ensure that we continue to offer multiple platforms to engage and empower our students, so that they may progress individually.


Vacca,R. T., Vacca, J.L., & Mraz, M. E. (2013). Content Area Reading: Literacy and learning across the curriculum (11th ed.). Toronto, ON: Pearson Education.

Teacher Candidates

Sharrie Brebric – 102386909

David Brooks – 104242249

Talia Masse – 103167121

All 36 Aliens

Introduction to Mendelian Genetics

Punnett Square Lesson Plan

Punnett Square Praxis Paper

Aliens Worksheet

Aliens Worksheet – Answers