Birds & Caterpillars
As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:
(1) Explain the use of camouflage as a defense mechanism.
(2) List examples of insects that use camouflage to protect them from predators.
(3) Identify other types of defense mechanisms used by insects.
IL Learning Standards/Descriptors:
12.B.3a. Compare and assess features of organisms for their adaptive, competitive, and
survival potential (e.g. camouflage and defensive structures).
Stage G: Describe how animal characteristics help them survive in their environments.
1 bag of colored pasta pieces - tan, orange, and green
1 posterboard for graphing - see diagram
A grassy area in the schoolyard
For this lesson, students take on the role of a bird in search of a caterpillar. The
caterpillars for this activity are pieces of green, orange, and tan pasta. Scatter a supply
of “caterpillars” (1/2 to 3/4 of a bag) in an area of the schoolyard. Divide the students
into two teams for a relay-type race.
For the first part of the lesson, instruct the students to find one caterpillar and
return to the end of the line. Do not tell them to find any specific color, but they should
not actually eat the caterpillar or pasta. Once each team is finished searching for food,
use the poster to display the results and discuss their observations. A chart is provided
to record the results for later discussion. Keep the caterpillars from the first race. Do
not throw them back out in the search area.
For the second part of the lesson, students search for food again, but should be
told that they prefer the green caterpillars, as they are more nutritious. If they cannot
find a green caterpillar, they may bring back two orange or three tan caterpillars. Once
each team has finished, use the poster to display the results, record in the chart, and
discuss their observations.
Repeat the relay race 2-3 more times. After each race, graph the results and
discuss. Students will start to worry about having en