Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, students explore BrainPOP resources to learn about fingerprints, and how their one-of-a-kind patterns help identify them. Then they’ll make their own fingerprint records to identify what kind of prints they have–loop, arch or whorl

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about fingerprints.
  2. Complete an activity identifying fingerprint patterns.
  3. Create and identify their own fingerprint patterns.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Index cards
  • Black ink pads (enough for several groups of students to share)


  • Preview the movie Fingerprints to plan for any adaptations.
  • Assign the “Identify It” Worksheet to each student.
  • Distribute index card to each student.
  • Provide inkpad to small groups.
  • Lesson Procedure:

    1. Display a KWL chart on the whiteboard. Ask students what they know about fingerprints. You may want to prompt them by asking them how fingerprints are used to identify people. Write their responses in the K column.
    2. Tell students that today they will learn all about fingerprints--what they are, their role in identification, how they improve our sense of touch, and more. Ask what they hope to learn about fingerprints. Write their responses in the W column.
    3. Show the Fingerprints movie on an interactive whiteboard or other large display for the whole class.
    4. After the movie, have students open their BrainPOP assignments, complete the “Identify It” Worksheet and submit to teacher.
    5. Now that students have had a chance to identify generic fingerprint patterns, it’s time for them to take a look at their own unique fingerprints. Instruct students to follow these steps:  
      • Press their thumb lightly on an ink pad, making sure to cover the whole fingertip. NOTE: Pressing too hard causes too much ink on the fingertip, filling in telltale ridgelines.
      • Place their ink covered thumb on an index card.
      • Lift thumb off the card to see the thumbprint. NOTE: Rolling or sliding the fingertip results in a fuzzy fingerprint.
      • Compare their own print to the three types of fingerprint patterns from the Identify It Worksheet: loop, whorl, and arch.: loop, whorl, and arch.
      • Identify which pattern is the closest match.
      • If time allows, complete for each finger and see how the patterns compare and contrast between finger of the same hand.
    6. Finally, divide the class into small groups of 3 or 4, and have students to compare their fingerprint patterns with other. After examining each other’s fingerprints, have them mix up the cards and see if they can match student to fingerprints.

    Extension Activities:

    Divide the class into groups of five. Assign each student in the group a different Related Reading to read (or have them choose among themselves). After reading, have each group member summarize the article for the rest of the group.