It's All in the Disguise

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SWBAT distinguish different methods animals use to disguise and defend themselves from predators.

Big Idea

The Rain Forest is full of amazing creatures that are experts at hiding. Using this theme to explore the ideas of camouflage, mimicry and even locomotion. Students will add more information and learning to previous lessons about animal adaptions.

Setting the Stage

5 minutes

This lesson addresses the Washington State Science standard 2-3 LS3C (Sometimes differences in characteristics give individual plants or animals an advantage in surviving and reproducing). 

Washington State is in an unusual place with the NGSS. The state is slowly transitioning into implementing the NGSS. Teachers are focusing on Science and Engineering Practices to begin and slowly moving towards full implementation by 2016.  However, teachers are still expected to teach to the the exiting standards.  This lesson allows Washington teachers to address this requirement, but also offers teachers in other states the ability to focus on certain NGSS aspects.  

Observing animals in any biome and writing about their specific characteristics and how they use those characteristics to survive will offer practice in SP4. Students will analyze and interpret how animals adapt body parts to protect and survive within the wild. 



10 minutes

I read the book, The Watcher, a children's book about Jane Goodall.  The book is about the life of the famous scientist.  It does a fantastic job of describing how patiently she waited for the chimps to reveal  themselves to her. I read the book earlier in the day, during a reading block of teaching. 

I introduce the lesson by holding up the book and showing it to the children. I ask them, "Why do you think the chimps blended into the jungle?" 

I anticipate the children will share answers of camouflage. Our reading curriculum has many stories that focus on camouflage and they will have some prior knowledge. 

We discuss the chimps need to protect themselves from Jane and why. I follow up with more questions like:

  • Do all animals blend into their surroundings to survive?
  • Do they all blend in the same way?
  • Are there other forms of camouflage that animals besides chimps use?


15 minutes

I direct the children to look at our bulletin board that has border and a palm tree with foliage on it. Other than these few items, there is nothing else on the board.  I explain to the children that I would like for them to help me to distinguish the different layers and place their labels where they believe they would fit most.  

I encourage them to think back to any prior knowledge they may have.  Knowing that we have discussed this in a previous lesson during the Alpine unit.  I believe it is important to draw out the connection for the students to see that biomes are separate, but connected.  Biomes and the layers within them are ways for scientists to classify and organize the information and science they gather.  

Students will begin to share all that they remember about the Alpine layers. I listen quietly as they share out what they remember. As the conversation dies down, I explain that in the Rain Forest, we will find only four layers and not six as in the Alpine Forest. 

I pin the four layer labels to the board in the order they will occur.  I then explain to the children that I need their assistance in placing the animals that live in the tropical forest, in the correct layer.  As they tell me where the animals should be placed, they will need to explain to me why they believe that animal would live in the particular layer they have chosen. 



15 minutes

When the children feel that we have placed all the animals in the correct places and they can justify their thinking to me, I ask them to look at the screen. 

I move away from the bulletin board and over to the Smart Board where I have my Power Point ready to discuss the different adaptions in protection that animals use to survive. 

Slide one is the title slide, I use this to explain to the children that all animals use different tactics to survive in the wild. These survivals skills are not all the same, some are structural and some are behavioral. Slide two explains that it is similar to a disguise....the children understand this when we remember that we use disguises at Halloween time.  

I move quickly through each slide showing the various different methods that are employed by animals. 

Slide six is not so much about a form of disguise, but more a movement. I want the students to understand that while this is not a way to disguise itself, it is still a protective device animals can utilize for survival.  It is an adaptation that is unique to certain species of animals.

Slide nine and ten explain the differences between structural and behavioral adaptations.  The children are very familiar with the adaptations that are behavioral and even structural.  Many lessons before, were spent digging into the reasons why and how so many animals do this.  However, the vocabulary of behavioral and structural were not introduced in those lessons. With a solid understanding of what each is, the students now have a name to attach to those concepts.  

Slide eleven and twelve, reviews hibernation and migration. They are simply brought back into the mix to reiterate for those students that may not have understood those concepts the first time. This provides a second shot for them to establish understanding of these concepts. 

Slide thirteen is the video below.  I always embed my video clips into my power points for ease of teaching. The video is a fun video that brings in music and fun graphics to explain and review adaptations.  



15 minutes

I show the children the slide on the screen that explains what I would like the students to do...

I want to see if the children will be able to choose an animal and describe the animal as a scientist would.  I tell them that I am not going to assist them in this activity. I simply want to see what they can do.  This is the time when the children are cutting away from my guided teaching and becoming much more independent.  I am placing the responsibility on their shoulders. I show them the slide on the screen and answer any questions they might have. 

I explain that I would like them to write their descriptions in their journals.  

As they begin to write and work, I am circulating in the class observing their work. 


15 minutes

The next morning, when the students enter the classroom, I have an entry task for them to complete. It is quick and simple cut and paste sorting sheet. The children have done these types of papers before and no explanation is necessary.

I want to see if they have internalized the differences between structural and behavioral adaptations.

When all the papers are completed, I gather them and check them quickly to see if any reteaching is necessary.