Amazing Animal Camouflage!

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SWBAT identify that camouflage is an adaption that helps animals to survive in more than one way.

Big Idea

Now you see it! Now you don't! Let's explore how camouflage can help animals hunt and hide.

Setting the Stage:

National Science Education Science Standards Connection:

The National Science Education Standards has said that making observations is key to inquiry-based and discovery-focused learning in science instruction. In order to do this students participate in inquiry-based learning that allows them to solve a problem in science through observation, discourse and using a science journal. Students will then be give a chance to share their findings with their peers and then reflect on their own understanding.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:

In this unit students will learn that organisms have external parts that help them survive in nature and then use that information to help them solve a human problem by mimicking plants and animals. This is called Biomimicry - bio: life, mimicry - to copy. To learn more about Biomimicry check out this Ted Talks.

In this lesson students are introduced to the animal adaptation, camouflage.  In this lesson students learn that camouflage helps to hunt and hide.  This adaptation is important to animal survival.

Home to School Connection:

In this unit we will be learning animal parts. Students will learn that organisms have external parts that help them survive in nature. The NGSS standards ask students solve a human problem by mimicking how plants and animals survive.  Each a day a student in class will be able to take home the Organisms Bag. In this bag I have included a recording sheet, crayons and pencils, and the book What if You Had Animal Teeth by Sandra Markle.

Classroom Structures:

In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships.  Turn and Talk Partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day.  Workshop Partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times.  In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.

Vocabulary Cards:

These are the vocabulary that will be covered in this unit that addresses 1-LS1-1.  You can choose to use these cards in different ways. I like to print all vocabulary words on card stock and hang them on my science bulletin board as a reference tool throughout the unit.  You can also use these cards as flashcards or a concentration matching game.


Pipe cleaners cut in fourths (pink, purple, orange, red, yellow, green, blue, white, black and brown)

A grassy area



Anchor Chart - Worm Hunt

Books - Zoo Books

Worksheet - Camouflage

Lizard clip art

Science Journals:  I just use blank paper in my journals so my students have space and freedom to experiment with graphic organizers, illustrations, etc.

Science Journal Prompt: How does camouflage help animals to survive?


5 minutes

Let's be scientists! In this lesson students make observations, ask questions and make predictions. Students explore how camouflage help animals survive in nature.

Boys and girls, what is camouflage? I allow my students to turn and tell their turn and talk partner what they know about camouflage. Then I ask, Why do animals use camouflage? How does it help them to survive? These are the question we will investigate deeper today in our science lesson.  In order to get our brains ready to study camouflage, we are going outside to do some hunting. You see, you get to pretend to be a predator. We can pretend that you are a bird and you are hungry for dinner and you only have thirty seconds to collect as much food as possible.  A bird enjoys eating worms so your prey will be worms. Not real will be pretending that pipe cleaners are worms. I have placed a bunch of pipe cleaners out on the grass for you to collect.  I will set my timer for thirty seconds and when I say go, you hunt. When I say stop, you will immediately bring all of your pipe cleaners to our meeting spot on the sidewalk.  Are you ready to head outside?

I take my students outside. On the grass I have about 165 multicolored pipe cleaners for my students to collect. I make sure to spread the pipe cleaners out in wide space so my students have room to move about without bonking into each other.  I blow my whistle signalling the timer has begun and my students run about hunting for pipe cleaners.  After 30 seconds I blow my whistle again signalling my students to meet me at the sidewalk with their findings.

Students get ready...


We got some worms 

We did too!

The CCSS asks that students organize, represent, and interpret data. I bring my students back into the classroom with their pipe cleaners to graph their results on their Camo-Graph. This graph will help my students to sort and organize the common colors found.  

Graphing worms

Graphing worms

Graphing worms

Graphing worms

After a few moments, I ask my students to join me on the carpet and we record our results our class Anchor Chart - Worm Hunt.

I ask my students the following questions to engage conversations about hunting and hiding.

*What colors were found the least? Why? How was this helpful for the prey?

Boys and girls when an animal blends in it can help them hide from predators.  There are other ways and types of camouflage.  We need to keep on investigating camouflage to find out: Why do animals use camouflage?

Let's see what else we can discover today.


25 minutes

The standard addressed in this unit requires students to make observations and identify functions of structures (animal parts) that help animals survive in nature. Camouflage is very important animal adaptation that helps animals both hunt for food and hide from predators. We will explore these purposes in depth for this lesson.

In order to develop a culture that encourages student engagement, curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration, I begin our learning asking my students to research camouflage using Zoo Books.  Each child records any "wonderings" and "noticings" in their Investigation Worksheet - Camouflage

Research - Camouflage

Research - Camouflage

Research - Camouflage

Investigation Worksheet 1

Investigation Worksheet 2

Investigation Worksheet 3

Investigation Worksheet 4

As my students research camouflage, I walk around and confer with each student naming and noticing the smart thinking happening. Conferring is the process of listening and recording the work the student or students are doing and then compliment the work. As I listen, I research a teaching point and then work to provide clarification through questioning, modeling and re-teaching. I refer back to our question:  Why do animals use camouflage?  How does it help them to survive?


10 minutes

The NGSS asks that students communicate and explain information from observations. In the explain section I want my students to share their science journals with their turn and talk partners. 

Thank you for meeting me on the carpet. We can call the work you have in front of you, your research.  Each of you have collected a lot of really good research or evidence on the different ways animals use camouflage in nature.  Now you get to do just what scientists do. You are going to share your research with your turn and talk partner.  Your job is to have a thoughtful conversation with your partner about your findings and your partners findings. As your partner shares his or her work with you, I want you to listen carefully to your partner today.  Are you ready to give this a go?

I listen in on conversations and then ask my students to share in a whole group setting.  I sometimes refer to this "meeting of the minds" as our Science Circle. 

Video - Science Circle

As my students share, I listen in on their conversations and note any new found information learned about ways that animals use camouflage.


20 minutes

In order to develop a culture that encourages student engagement, curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration, I elaborate by telling my students that some animals can have patterns or disguises that help them hide or hunt while other animals just blend into their environment.  To build on this I show them this really cool 8 minute video:

After the video my students take out their science journal and I give each child a paper cut out of a Lizard. I tell them it is their job to create a habitat that will allows their lizard to be camouflage.

Once my students are done, I ask them to share their lizards with their peers.  This is done informally. 

Camouflage Lizard

Camouflage Lizard

Camouflage Lizard

Camouflage Lizard

Camouflage Lizard


5 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 4 asks students to analyze data. At the K-2 level this involves students collecting, recording, and sharing observations. In this lesson the students are recording information, thoughts and ideas in their science journals. I send my students back to their science journals and ask them to write the answer to our big question: "How does camouflage help animals to survive?"

As the students write I tell them to refer back to their research. I am looking for answers that include both illustrations and words that describe how camouflage is a useful adaptation that helps animals to both hunt for prey and hide from predators.