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Darwin Correspondence Project

Detecting Darwin

Key Stage: 

Pupils act as Darwin detectives, exploring clues about Darwin’s life and work. No prior knowledge assumed.

Each activity builds on the previous one beginning by inferring from photographs and other visual clues and concluding with what is important about Darwin.

Starter Presentation

Learning outcomes

By the end of the activities pupils will be able to:

  • list some key moments in Darwin’s life
  • describe key ideas about his work and the way that he worked
  • sort and prioritise information about Darwin
  • describe why he is considered a significant person

Ask The Expert Video

Professor Jim Secord discusses what Darwin was like and why he was important.

Duration: 8.30 mins

Activity 1: Who Lives Here?

Picking up clues from a photo of Darwin's study.

Duration: 15 mins

Activity 2: Piecing Things Together

How many children did Darwin have? Where is he buried? Piece together clues to find out more about Darwin's life and work.

Duration: 35 mins

Activity 3: Types Of Evidence

What types of evidence do we have and which are the most reliable sources?

Duration: 15 mins

Activity 4: Darwin's Biography

What would you write about in a biography of Charles Darwin?

Duration: 30 mins

Activity 5: Remembering Darwin

Design a memorial for Darwin.

Duration: 60 mins

Further Activity

Have a go at cross-hatch writing.

Discussion questions

Thinking beyond and testing your learning

1. These activities have given you lots of clues to help you piece together events in Darwin’s life. How else could we find out more details about a famous person’s life?

Suggested answer...

Include: Talking to someone who remembers them, watching a TV programme/ online film, listening to a radio programme, visiting a museum, archive 

2. Imagine you have been asked to interview Darwin for an article in a magazine. What would you like to ask him?

Suggested answer...

Prompt with all the different areas of his life that they have learnt about. 


    Schools Gallery


Pupils from Meldreth Primary School, Cambs, learn about Darwin’s fantastical voyage

Pupils from Meldreth Primary School write a letter home from the voyage

Discovering a Toxodon

Packing for a voyage

Writing letters home

3D herbarium, St Luke's Primary School, Cambridge

Pupils from St Luke's Primary School, Cambridge, create 3D herbaria

Pupil cartoon of the peppered moth story

Pupils from St Matthew's Primary School, Cambridge, read a letter from Charles Darwin