A characteristic is a feature of an organism. It can be something we can see (like hair colour) or something we can’t see (like blood group).
All humans have different combinations of characteristics, meaning we all look different.
This difference in our characteristics is called variation.
Let's use Mr Men as examples
Can you identify their characteristics?
For example, Mr Sneeze has blue skin, red nose and long legs.
How do you know that is their child?
Does the child have the same hair colour as the mother?
Does the child have long legs like the father?
These are called inherited characteristics.
Take a look at these sets of parents and their 'child'. Write down the characteristics that the children have inherited from their parents.
¢ These are features that are passed down to us from our birth parents
¢ These characteristics are called genes
¢ We get half of our genes from our mother and half from our father
Are all of our characteristics inherited?
Some of our features are determined by how we live and the choices we make, for example what we eat and where we live.
These are environmental characteristics.
Some characteristics can be both, for example height and weight.
Take a look at the list of characteristics below and decide whether they are inherited, environmental or both: