The Colors of Chameleons!

  • Time Length
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    < 1 hour

  • Mess Level
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    A Little Messy

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    Materials or Fees

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a way of hiding something by covering or coloring it so that it looks like its surroundings. The military uses camouflage to hide people, buildings, or vehicles from the enemy. The coats of many animals serve them as a natural form of camouflage.

Read “The Mixed-Up Chameleon” by Eric Carle.

Question and Wonder:

  • Why does a chameleon change color?
  • What is camouflage? Why and where would you want to use it?
  • What animals does the chameleon pretend to be?
  • Why do you think the chameleon wants to be another kind of animal?
  • Would you like to be another kind of animal? Why?
  • If you could change colors, what color would you want to be? What about patterns? Polka dots? Stripes?

Draw a chameleon on the baggie or notebook divider with permanent marker.  Place it on different things around the room.

Imagine and Design:

  • What happens as you move your chameleon from one place to the next?
  • Are there places it is easier to see? Harder? Why is that?
  • What shapes do you see, what colors do you see?
  • What of you add stripes or dots to your chameleon? Does it make it easier or harder to see him?
  • If you wanted to hide, what color would work best as camouflage in your house? Yard? Park? ….?

Test and Discuss:

  • Can a chameleon really change into another animal?
  • Can a chameleon change its color?
  • Why does a chameleon change color? What do you think?
  • What other animals use their colors to camouflage themselves? to stand out? to…?

Extension Activities:

  • Get a pack of the clear colored notebook dividers and outline one or two chameleons per divider. Using a permanent marker, make patterns on some of them and leave the rest the solid color. “Hide” the chameleons around the house, taping them against things close to or  of the same color and things not the same color. Challenge your kiddos to find all the chameleons. Talk about their hunt – which were easy, hard, almost impossible to find. Why were they….? Talk about how things of the same color can blend into one another.
  • Challenge them to dress in the same color as something in the house, yard or park and then hide…how fast can you find them? How did the “camouflage” change the classic game of hide and seek?

Did you Know?

Special color pigment cells under the skin called chromatophores allow some chameleon species to change their skin color, creating combined patterns of pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, yellow and purple.

Chameleons change color for camouflage but this is not always the main reason. Some show darker colors when angry, or when trying to scare others. Males show light multi-colored patterns when vying for female attention. Desert varieties change to black when its cooler to absorb heat, then a light grey to reflect heat.

Follow this link to some fun facts about chameleons:

AND here’s a great video from National Geographic!:

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