Animal Adaptations: Camouflage

Last week I wrote about two of my animal research units, vertebrates and invertebrates.  Well, not every unit I teach is done in isolation; I like to make connections and spiral back and blur the lines between topics whenever it's conducive to learning.  One lesson that can really go in either unit, so it tends to end up either in the middle the animal units or after both is my lesson on camouflage.  This is one of those projects that I look forward to every year because the kids get a constant reminder of it.

I start out by asking the kids to each pick a "spot" in the room that will become a "habitat" for an animal.  Then we color our paper to look like the spot.  As an example I color a wood grain pattern on my paper to look like my door.  I layer on color to make it not just look brown, but the right shade of almost orange-y brown.

Next, I challenge kids to think about what type of animal might live there.  A moth could spend some time on the door.  A bird might be found up by the ceiling.  What adaptations make both of those animals suited for being up high?

Then I have students fold their paper in half.  I instruct them to draw their animal on one half of the white side of their paper.  I check their drawings before they cut, otherwise some will mistakenly draw half a butterfly thinking they're doing a symmetry project instead of getting 2 separated animals in the end!

After completing a processing sheet that requires them to describe their habitat, animal, and its adaptations, I let them tape their animal to its "spot" (unless it's out of reach, in which case I climb things to make it work).

I put each animal's "twin" on a poster.  This year I took it a step further, and put them in a zoo!  I was hoping it would spark discussion and concern for caged animals as opposed to those still in the wild, but this group didn't take the bait.  Maybe next year.  On the other hand, one of my students who doesn't always shine in every academic area referred to the matching animals, not as twins, but as doppelgangers!  I was so shocked and impressed with that vocabulary word that I included it on the poster.  :D

The animals are left up all year round as a teaser.  Soon we'll be be ready to clean our room and it will be a nice reminder of an activity they did "a long time ago."  I treat it like a scavenger hunt.  "Can anyone find a camouflaged animal that is NOT their own?"  At the end, any animals that are only visible to their creator are deemed the most well adapted and thus the winners! 

The hawk IS there, but very hard to see!
As an added bonus this year, just two days after we completed this activity, one of our neighborhood wildlife friends, a hawk, came for a visit at recess.  By which I mean it came in a little too close for (my) comfort!  Normally they're overhead, or in a tree on the edge of the grounds, but this one came in on a very low branch to sit and watch the children (shudder).  Now, some of the kids had trouble seeing it and so, you guessed it, my students started arguing.  It went down like this:

"I don't see it!"
"It's right there!"
"You're lying."
"No, I'm not, it's really there!"
"It IS.  You just can't see it because it's camouflaged!  Right Mrs. Thomas?"

I think they've got it.

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1 comment :

  1. You make me wish that I didn't have to teach Earth Science:).


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