World Down Syndrome Day Lesson Plan

World Down Syndrome Day is on March 21st (3/2), chosen to represent the 3 copies of the 21st chromosome expressed in individuals with Down syndrome.  The following lesson plan was created to help raise awareness in my son‘s second grade class about Down syndrome.  In addition to the plan, I put together a display about Down syndrome and about the fun and exciting life being lived by my son, who has it.


1) Read, “The Extra Book,” which provides a simple explanation of Down syndrome.

Other possible books are, My Friend Isabelle and I Know Someone With Down Syndrome.

2) Allow children to ask questions about Down syndrome.  Answer questions and share information about people with Down syndrome:

People with Down syndrome can learn and do anything that you can learn and do.   Sometimes they learn in a different way. 

Their bodies sometimes work differently too.  They may need to move in different ways to make themselves feel comfortable.  

They have lots of things to share, but they may communicate differently.  They are good at some things and have to work really hard at others, just like you.  

People with Down syndrome are different from you in some ways, but are like you in many ways too.  How are they different?  How are they alike?

3) Tell children they are going to learn three big words to help them understand Down syndrome.  (chromosomes, Trisomy 21, karyotype)


Chromosomes contain information that determine things like what color your eyes will be or how tall you will be.  There are billions of tiny cells in our bodies and most people have 23 pairs of chromosomes in each of their cells.  That is a total of 46 chromosomes in every cell.

Down syndrome (also known as Trisomy 21)

A person with Down syndrome is born with one extra chromosome in each of their cells.  Instead of a pair of the 21st chromosome, they have three.  That is a total of 47 chromosomes.


A karyotype is a picture of the chromosomes in your body arranged in an organized way.  The karyotype of a person with Down syndrome looks different than the karyotype of a person without Down syndrome.

Activity #1

Children will work in small groups to create a Down syndrome karyotype.  Numbered poster board will be provided.  Children will arrange 23 pairs of chromosomes (small pieces of thread) on the board.  They will add a third chromosome to the 21st pair to show the extra chromosome present in the cells of people with Down syndrome.

Karyotype activity for world Down Syndrome Day

Small pieces of thread and numbered poster board are used to create a Down syndrome karyotype.

Activity #2

Create a Venn Diagram as a class or individually showing the differences and similarities between people who have Down syndrome and people who do not.

Venn Diagram Worksheet

3 thoughts on “World Down Syndrome Day Lesson Plan

  1. Mia

    i am Mia and i am 9 and i have a little brother with down syndrome too and i like how you did this poster of down syndrome and i am doing a poster in class about down syndrome and writing a couple of pages of what it is like living with someone with down syndrome and i know it is hard to understand what down syndrome is but you did a really great job and i really liked it.

  2. Mia

    I am Mia and i am in third grade and i really like your poster cause i have a little brother with down syndrome and i think that it is really cool to make a poster about down syndrome and in my class i do something called genius hour and we do what we think about our passion and we do a project on it and i am doing a poster of down syndrome too and i am also doing a daily page to tell what it is like and i like learning about down syndrome and i really like your idea a lot. :) :) :) :) :)

    1. naturallyeducated Post author

      Hi Mia, thanks for reading. It is wonderful that you are helping others understand your brother and other people with Down syndrome!

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