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Teaching about adaptations can be fun, especially when you start talking about the physical adaptation of camouflage. Often times students who are aware of camouflage have already completed an activity where they color a butterfly, or some other image, to match a background, so I have to get creative and come up with a different activity for them.
Enter my “Scavenger Hunt.”
Helping Students Understand Camouflage
In this camouflage investigation, I take students outside and mark off individual areas for each group. The size is usually about the size of two desks pushed together. Then I drop about 50 colored toothpicks throughout this area. The toothpicks represent the prey or ‘insects.’
Then, I bring the students out, who represent the predators (such as birds), and they are given 15 seconds to pick up as many ‘insects’ as they can. Once time is up, they cannot return any ‘insects’ to the field. You can provide them with another round if desired.
After ‘hunting’ for their food, we create charts to determine which ‘insects’ survived best (the ones that camouflaged did best, which were the green in the grass). Our charts would show the numbers of which colors were collected in each round.
While you could see the green toothpicks in the grass when looking closely, when you are limited on time and looking fast, you aren’t as likely to grab them as much.
Investigation 2 is similar. So let’s say that you live in an area like me where it is winter like 9 months out of the year. I wish I was kidding but I’m pretty sure it’s winter alllllll year long here. That can make it tough to get outside and find some grass that isn’t so white. Or maybe you teach adaptations during a time when it is winter and so, you need an alternative activity for teaching camouflage. I understand.
Instead, use green felt to represent your ‘grass’. Then, using construction paper and your hole puncher, create ‘insects’ to place on the green grass felt. Then, like above, give students (the birds) 15 seconds to pick up as many insects they see. (It’s important that they grab the ones they see and not just swish them into their hands.) Repeat, if desired, and then create your charts.
Both of these activities can help children see that by blending into their environment, animals have a greater chance of surviving because they aren’t noticed as much as other animals. It is also a great way to help children understand the meaning of camouflage. Plus it’s a new activity that they likely haven’t seen before.
I have a science tabbed booklet on camouflage that explores this investigation. It includes a differentiated reading passage, vocabulary practice, and more!
You can find my camouflage science tabbed booklet on TpT here.
You can find my camouflage science tabbed booklet in my personal store here.
It will definitely save you some time and engage your students during this investigation!
Head to my store and check it out. 🙂