Camouflage Fun

Children will learn about how animals camouflage themselves in their habitat.

Lesson Objective

Children will learn the definition of “camouflage” and learn how it is important to animals and their habitats.


What You'll Need

  • Pipe cleaners in a variety of colors—brown, green, yellow, white, red, blue, and orange (enough for each child).
  • A grassy area outside

What To Do

Note: This activity involves a walk outside.

  1. Prior to taking the children outside, scatter all of the colored pipe cleaners around the outdoor area that you have chosen. Be sure to keep a count of how many are distributed.
  2. Take your class outside and encourage them to find as many pipe cleaners as they can. Give them a limited time to complete the search (about 3–5 minutes).
  3. When time is up, have the children count the pipe cleaners they found. There will probably be some missing. Take the whole group back to the area to look more closely for the missing pipe cleaners.
  4. Discuss with the children which pipe cleaners were harder to find. They will discover that the natural-colored pipe cleaners (the browns and greens) were harder to locate.
  5. Use the pipe cleaners as an example to discuss how animals use camouflage.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Why were some pipe cleaners easier to find than others? Why are some harder to find than others?
  • Describe the pipe cleaners that were easy/difficult to find.
  • How does camouflage help animals?
  • How could you camouflage yourself so that you could hide?
  • Look at some pictures of birds. What colors would need to be in their habitat for them to hide, or blend in.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Read the digital storybook, Lizard on the Loose! together. In the story, Abby and Elmo are looking all over the classroom for their class pet lizard, Henry. They eventually find Henry hiding in plain sight! Go to Reading Adventures, a series of five Sesame Street digital storybooks focused on vocabulary development and choose Lizard on the Loose!
  • Let the children take pipe cleaners on the playground during recess so that they can continue to experiment.
  • Show the children pictures of animals that are found in your region. Examine the pictures with the children.  Discuss what the animals look like. Talk about their size, shape, and color. Where could these animals hide in your area? Near a tree trunk, in the grass, under a bush, in a tree? Where would it be easy to see the animals, why?
  • Put a variety of different colored plastic insects or animals in the sand table (make sure that some of them are white, tan, or gray). As the children dig, ask them which toys are easier to find and why.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Are the children able to use the word “camouflage” and understand how camouflaging helps to protect animals in their natural habitat?
  • Can children understand why some pipe cleaners were more difficult to find than others?
  • Can the children extend their understanding of camouflage to other animals and humans?


Did You Know

Camouflage allows animals to protect themselves in nature. They are able to hide themselves or appear as if they are part of their habitat or natural surroundings. "Blending in" is the most common type of camouflaging in animals. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks have brownish, earth tone colors that blend in with the base of trees and bushes and soil. Sharks and dolphins have a grayish-blue coloring, which helps them blend in with the soft light underwater. Some animals like chameleons can change their coloring based on their surroundings.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • camouflage – a way of hiding by covering or coloring so an object looks like its surroundings.
  • search – to try to find something by looking for it carefully.
  • compare – to see how something is similar to or different from something else.
  • blend in – to fit in so well with the things around you, it is hard to see the object or person.
  • hide – to put or keep away from view; to not be able to see.
  • habitat – the natural environment of an animal; where an animal lives.

Lesson Tips

  • Before beginning the lesson, make sure that all of the children recognize what a pipe cleaner looks like.
  • For younger children, you may want to use large craft pipe cleaners. They are easier to see and to pick up.


  • What Color is Camouflage? by Carolyn Otto
  • Where in the Wild?: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed…and Revealed by David Schwartz
  • Animal Disguises by Emma Ryan
  • Lots of Spots by Lois Ehlert
  • How to Hide a Butterfly by Ruth Heller

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS