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Lesson Plans
Hide in Plain Sight
Camouflage: How Animals Blend into Their Surroundings
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Prep for Teachers

CUE the videotape to the correct starting point. Bookmark the Web sites you will be using in the lesson. Download and install the Shockwave plug-in on the computers used by students. When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments and Web sites.
Print out enough animals from “Enchanted Learning: Camouflaged Animals Coloring Book” for one per student. Place all materials in a designated materials station in your classroom.

Note: If you can't print the animal outlines from the Enchanted Learning Web site for students to color, you will need to obtain enough magazines with animal pictures for students to cut out.

Introductory Activities: Setting the Stage

Tell students they will see a video clip showing some children playing hide-and-seek. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to determine why it is easy for Simon to find the other children. START the video when you see the text "Hide and Seek" on the screen and children are walking towards the camera. You will hear children talking. PAUSE when you see a girl's shoes running away from the camera and you hear Simon say, "Hey, this is so easy." When your students say Simon's job was easy, ask why. (A common answer is that their clothes made them stand out even though they were hiding.)

Learning Activities

Step 1:

Tell students they are now going to look at some animals playing hide-and-seek. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to call out the names of the hidden animals they see. PLAY the video where you paused. Write students' responses on the board. (Animals shown are a moose, stick insect, ground bird, lizard, bird, lion, fawn, and stick insect.) The narrator will say:
"These kids could learn a thing or two from the many animals in the world who learn to hide in their own habitats. There are animals hiding in these pictures. Can you spot them? You have to look very closely to see the deer lying curled up on the forest floor. The spots on his back look like patches of sunlight shining through the trees. Can you see the stick insect on this twig?"
PAUSE when you see a stick insect. Review the names from the list you have written. Ask students what it is called when animals can blend into their surroundings. Write their responses on the board. Ask why some animals have this ability. (To hide from predators.) If students have mentioned "camouflage," tell them they will now explore it. If the word hasn't yet been mentioned, tell students they will now learn more about how animals hide. If the images go by too quickly for students to see, REWIND and REPLAY this segment of the video in slow motion, or frame-by-frame.

Step 2:

Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to list ways in which animals can hide. If no one has yet mentioned camouflage, also ask them to listen for the word that means well-hidden. PLAY from the previous pause point. The narrator will say:
"These animals seem to disappear into the background because of their coloring or their shape. They're well hidden, or camouflaged. Camouflage means the animal blends in with its surroundings. When the color of an animal's skin resembles its background, or the pattern on its fur looks like the shadows in tall grass, or its shape makes it look like a rock, that's camouflage."
STOP the tape when you see a turtle walking. Ask for student responses and write them on the board. (Students should mention color, shape, and pattern.)

Step 3:

Tell students they will now use the Internet to examine hidden animals. Divide the class into three groups and have each group log on to one of these three sites:

The Wild Ones Animal Index: Insect Camouflage and Mimicry

University of Richmond Education Department: If You Can't Run You've Got to Hide!

Find the Critters

Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to describe in writing how animals are hidden in the pictures they view. When the three groups are ready, have students share verbally what they saw while you enter their responses on a Camouflage Chart on the board (see a completed sample chart on the next page). Ask students to add two animals from other teams to their own charts. Ask students if there are similarities and/or differences between the three groups. (Yes: animals use color, pattern, and shape to look like things around them.)

(Sample Student Responses)
My Animalís Name How It Is Camouflaged What It Looks Like
Color Pattern Shape
Katydid X X X A leaf
Sandfish X X   Sand
Bobcat   X   Branches
Insect X   X A leaf
Deer X     Trees
Quail X X   Leaves
Possum X     Tree bark
Calf X     Grass
Redwing Blackbird (Nest) X   X Branches
Frog X     Water plants
Eagle X   X Branches
Bobcat X X   Grass

Step 4:

Tell students they will now use the Internet interactively to examine camouflage. Divide students into four groups and ask them to log on to the following site:

Harcourt Publishers: Camouflage Field Book

Ask each group to look at one environment (Arctic Meadow, Coral Reef, African Grasslands, or Rain Forest) and follow the instructions to check which animals are camouflaged. Tell them they can click on the magnifying glass handle for more information, such as the name of an animal or why an animal is or isn’t hidden. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to add to their charts information about how these animals are hidden. When students are ready, have them share verbally what they saw while you add their responses to the chart on the board. Ask students if they saw different means of camouflage (changing color). Sample student responses are included in the table below.

(Additional Sample Student Responses)
My Animalís Name How It Is Camouflaged What It Looks Like
Color Shape
Ptarmigan X   Snow
Polar Bear X   Snow
Lion     Grass
African Dormouse X   Grass
Longlure Frogfish X Sea rock
Octopus X   Changes color to look like the sea floor or seaweed
Chameleon X   Changes color to look like its surroundings
Praying Mantis X Green twig

Cross-Curricilar Extensions

Step 1:

Tell students they are now going to design their own camouflaged animals. Hand out print outs of animals from this Web site. Have them to log on to the Enchanted Learning: Camouflaged Animals Coloring Book Web site at Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to click on their animal and read about it. (If you don't have a printer, have magazines available from which students can cut pictures.) Students should focus on how their animal and its habitat look (keeping in mind that some animals can change color with their backgrounds or with the seasons) and color in their animal printout so it looks realistic. Have students cut out their colored animals and glue a craft stick onto the backs of their pictures.

Step 2:

Now have students design a realistic habitat by coloring and decorating a piece of construction paper. Have a class discussion about how the animals and their habits should look for the animals to be camouflaged. (Animals should blend in by matching the colors and or shapes of their environment.)

Step 3:

Now have students place the animals on their habitats. Hold them up, keeping them still, and see if students can pick out and identify animals from across the room. Have students discuss whether it was easy or difficult to find the animals within their habitats.

Step 4:

Tell students they will see the hide-and-seek game again on video. FAST FORWARD to where you see “Hide and Seek Using Camouflage” on the screen and you see and hear the children talking. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking describe how Simon found Etianna and why it is more difficult for Simon to find his friends. START the video when you see the text "Hide-and-Seek Using Camouflage" on the screen and children walking and you hear children talking. STOP when you see the segment with children end. CHECK for student comprehension. (Children were wearing camouflaged clothing this time; Etianna moved.)

Step 5:

Now have students repeat the activity where they look at their hidden animals from across the room, but have them move the sticks. Have a class discussion about whether it is now easier to see the animals. (Easier.)

If time and space allow, divide your class into two groups and have them play a hide-and-seek game just like Simon and his friends from the video, first with brightly colored, uncamouflaged clothes, and then with jackets or sweaters that allow them to be camouflaged. Have children compare how many were caught in both tries.

Cross-Curricilar Extensions

Have your students write from the perspective of an animal that is staying still to avoid being seen by a predator.

Use any of the books on the resource list as a Guided Reading activity.

Have your students count and graph how many animals they saw when still versus how many they saw when moving.
Have your students count stripes on a group of animals, such as zebras. What is the lowest number of stripes? The highest? What is the range (the difference between the highest and lowest)? Have students use these resources:

Animals Count
Discusses zebras and their stripes on page 3. This is a .pdf file, so Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed.

Ride Along the Subtraction Zoo Tram
Activity #5 is a zebra stripe subtraction problem.

Lot and Lots of Zebra Stripes: Patterns in Nature. Swinburne, Stephen R. Boyd Mills Press, 1998. ISBN 1563977079.

Have students create their own habitats and camouflaged creatures, using any colors and materials they choose.


Have students study camouflaged animals in a particular part of the world and how it helps them to survive.

Community Connections
  • Have your students research local animals that are camouflaged.

  • Have your students visit a local zoo, aquarium, science museum, botanic garden, or nature center to study camouflage.

  • Ask a wildlife expert to come in and speak with your class about camouflage.