Children will learn about fingerprints.

Birds Nest

Lesson Objective

Children will observe the uniqueness of their fingerprints and create pictures.


What You'll Need

  • Magnifying glasses – 1 per child
  • Black ink pads – 1 per 2 children
  • White drawing paper – 1 sheet per child

What To Do

  1. Discuss with the children about their fingerprints (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  2. Distribute magnifying glasses.
  3. Encourage exploration of the features of fingerprints (see Did You Know?).
  4. Distribute ink pads and paper for the children to make fingerprints on.
  5. Encourage the children to print all of their fingers.
  6. Compare the different fingers that were printed.
  7. Have the children trade papers and examine another child’s fingerprints, describing similarities and differences.
  8. Allow the children to make pictures using the ink pads and their fingerprints.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • What do your fingerprints look like?
  • How do you think we could examine our fingerprints?
  • Describe how your fingerprint looks.
  • Now that you made a fingerprint on paper, describe how it looks.
  • Describe what is the same/different about the two fingerprints.
  • Why do you think we have fingerprints?

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Challenge the children to find places in the classroom where they may leave fingerprints behind. (Most likely, door knobs, windows, and mirrors.)
  • Make magnifying glasses available in the science center for children who wish to further observe.
  • Make ink pads and paper available in the art center.
  • Try printing toes or making footprints; compare them with fingerprints and handprints.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe their fingerprints?
  • Could children compare the similarities and differences in the fingerprints?
  • Were children able to create a picture using their fingerprints?


Did You Know

Fingerprints are unique. Our fingerprints have patterns that are very complex. Typical fingerprint patterns include loops, arches, and whorls from the ridges in our skin. Even though our fingerprints all have patterns, they are different from the fingerprints of anyone else in the world. 

A fingerprint is an impression left by the ridges on the surface of our fingers. These impressions can be left behind when they come into contact with a surface that will take a print like a mirror or doorknob. Residue left on the skin such as perspiration, grease, blood, paint, oil, or ink can leave a print behind. Because fingerprints are so unique, they are widely used as a form of identification. 

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • fingerprint – a mark made by the tip of a finger on an object that it has touched.
  • examine – to look at in a close, thorough way.
  • loop – the rounded shape made when something curves back and crosses itself.
  • arch – a rounded structure over an open space.
  • whorl – a circular arrangement around a center, or a coiled shape.
  • ridge – a long, narrow, raised section at the top of something.

Lesson Tips

  • Have the children wear smocks to protect clothing.


  • Funny Fingers, Funny Toes by Laura Damon
  • Piggies by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
  • Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins
  • Busy Fingers by C. W. Bowie

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS