Camouflage protects animals by hiding them from a predator. It can also allow them to become a predator themselves. Would participants make good natural predators? How well can they find prey?
4 or higher
Indoor and outdoor classroom
Potlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook’s Lake, Casscoe
Education Program Coordinator, 870-241-3373
Suggested Number of Participants:
20 - 25
One adult supervisor per 10 students; outdoor activities, weather permitting.
- Define camouflage.
- Simulate how camouflage can make it difficult for predators to find their prey.
*See glossary for definations
Roped off scouting area
Container filled with M&Ms and candy corn
Plastic “critters,” bold colors and camouflaged colors
When an animal is camouflaged, it has an advantage over both its predator and prey. Some animals use this to obtain food while others use it to protect themselves from predators.
- Mix a bag of regular M&Ms and a bag of candy corn in a container.
- Have each child pick two M&Ms (the first two they see, not a favorite color).
- Ask the participants to lay the M&Ms on the table in front of them. Then have the child put their hands in their lap. (This is to keep them from playing with the candy.)
- When everyone has displayed their M&Ms, put the colors on the board and count the number of colors chosen. Ask participants to hold up one finger for one red, two fingers for two red and so on until all colors are counted.
- If all goes well, there should be fewer of the orange and yellow ones. Ask some of the participants on the front seats to verify that there are many yellow and orange ones left.
- Ask why there were so few yellow and orange ones chosen? Most will figure out that these two colors blended in with the candy corn in the container. This leads to the subject of camouflage. (Give other examples from nature such as monarch and viceroy butterflies being similar in color.) Since the candy is clean, they can eat their M&Ms.
- Take them outside to find rubber “critters” (snakes, spiders, etc.) hidden in a roped-off area. The kids are to (1) count silently the number they find (2) not show others where the “critters” are (3) not pick up, kick or put leaves over any of the “critters.”
- After a few minutes, call the kids back and ask how many “critters” each found. After they have given you their numbers, tell them how many you have hidden. (Thirty is a good number for an average-size group.)
- Next, send the kids back to pick up one “critter” at a time and bring it back to be counted as they put it in the bag. Continue finding “critters” until all have been picked up. Participants should not run or push as they pick up the “critters.”
- When all “critters” have been accounted for, ask why some “critters” were easy to find? Why were some so difficult to find?
Discuss examples of camouflage in nature.
- How does camouflage help an animal?
- How can humans use camouflage to their advantage?
Camouflage – colors, tones, patterns, shapes or behavior an organism uses to blend in with its surroundings: also concealment that alters or obscures the appearance; also protective coloration, a common animal defense
Predator – an animal that hunts and kills other animals, usually for food
Prey – an animal that is killed and eaten by another animal