How Does Color Help An Animal To Survive?

20 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT explain how plants & animals adapt to survive in their environment.

Big Idea

Visuals are very important and help to clarify the understanding of a concept. This lesson on adaptation teaches that small differences can have large effects in the animal or plant kingdom.

Bell Ringer - Animal Adaptations

5 minutes

Animal Adaptations : Compare & Contrast

Before Viewing the Video:

To begin the lesson, I ask students to turn and read the Target on the Board. I ask one student to read the Target. This gives students an opportunity to understand the goals and expectations for the lesson.

I ask students to compare and contrast animal adaptations as they watch the video. By providing a worksheet with a 3 Ring Venn Diagram, students have a place to record thoughts and ideas they heard in the Animal Adaptations video while also being a great visual tool. A Venn Diagram or graphic organizer is a useful tool for any content area. Venn Diagrams are tools that help develop students' speaking and writing skills. Students can have the ideas, make connections, and understand concepts, but may not know how to express what they know. The Venn Diagram is one of the tools used to make thinking visible while helping students structure and express their thinking.

After Viewing the Video:

I am looking for answers in the Venn Diagram about each animal (giraffe, camel, penguin) such as traits, characteristics, and features.

In the center of the Venn Diagram, I ask students to identify traits that are the "same" or alike about each animal. Some responses I am looking for include:

  • They all adapt to help them survive.
  • They all have different ways to help them live and adapt and can camouflage into their environment.
  • They all have features that help them survive.

How Does Color Help An Animal Survive?

30 minutes

This lesson focuses on LS4.C: Adaptation which states that adaptation by natural selection acting over generations is one important process by which species change over time in response to changes in environmental conditions. Students' attention will also be drawn to CCC #2 Cause and Effect because these relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural systems like the structural and/or behavioral adaptations discussed in this lesson. Cause and effect must be explicitly taught in this lesson. Draw students back to the cause (camouflage) and effect (blending into environment) to deepen understanding that this results in safety from predators. 

I structured this lesson with the steps of the Scientific Method to provide repetition and practice for my students. The steps and procedures are outlined on the student worksheet. The activity is structured around the question:

How does color help an animal to survive?

It includes reading background information, writing an hypothesis statement, and an inquiry that explores and demonstrates the benefits of camouflage in animals.

Students use a model in this Inquiry to predict and/or describe phenomena (SP2 Using Models), and as they use the model, students (SP4) analyze and interpret data collected during the activity. Using models and interpreting data will build knowledge of relevant relationships in nature.


What to expect from student learning:

  • Students see and pick up dots that offer the most contrast to the background of their advertisement.
  • Students recognize that colors different from the background were easier to find and that colors closest to the background colors were more difficult to find.
  • Protective coloring or camouflage makes it more difficult for predators to see their prey. Once an animal leaves its habitat, the protective coloring may no longer camouflage the animal.



The Three-Ring Venn Diagram shows a comparison among the camel, giraffe, and penguin. Students identify facts about each animal by writing them in the appropriate space. In the middle, students identify what is the same among all three animals. Students should write about the animal's characteristics and traits.



5 minutes

I learned that  . . . because . . . 

So now a quick formative assessment. Did they "get it?"

After the activity, I gather the class back together and I ask them to form a conclusion using the Sentence Frame "I learned that...because...."

I give students 2 minutes to think about and write their conclusion. Then I ask them to share with their partner. Taking time to let students Think-Pair-Share with their partner is a valuable strategy that will increase student achievement. 

Then I ask students to share their conclusion with the class. Sharing out with the class takes about 2 minutes. I look for responses such as:

  • I learned that color helps an animal survive because it is easier to hide from predators and sneak up on prey.
  • I learned that color helps an animal survive because it helps blend the animal in to its environment.


I encourage students to incorporate domain specific vocabulary into their writing by using words such as predator and prey. An interactive Word Wall displays key vocabulary words specific to the content.

So, what did students really learn today? Ask them and they will tell you!