Evolution and Natural selection

As Year 6 will be required to learn about evolution, they will inherently need to understand the concept of natural selection.

Natural selection is a process in which evolution can occur. The key factors in evolution by natural selection are:

  • Individuals in a species or population show a degree of variation.
  • Individuals in the population or species with traits most suited to the environment are more likely to survive and have healthy offspring.
  • The offspring of the successful individuals will inherit the same or similar traits.
  • Individuals less suited to their environment are less likely to survive or have offspring. Their traits are less likely to be passed on and there is a change in the trait frequency in a population.
  • Over many generations as the trait pattern changes, the species or population will gradually evolve.

Darwin’s finches are also a great way of explaining how natural selection resulted in birds on some islands evolving different shaped beaks based on the resources (food) that was available to them. They are a great example to use that brings together understanding of the environment, adaptations and the process of evolution by natural selection. We also have a specific page about the life of Darwin and his work on evolution.


Bird beak shapes are investigated in relation to their environment and how over generations this leads to evolutionary adaptation. A fun activity using different tools as beaks to pick up different sized food in changing environments Bird beak investigation

Below is a feature video all about adaptations, evolution and how it can occur through a process called natural selection. Try getting your class to think about the adaptations of some model dinosaurs, like they do in the video!

Adaptations and Evolution