Learning Description

Animals are very creative! They adapt to their environments to improve their chances of survival; two types of adaptation are camouflage and mimicry. In this lesson, students will use voice and body, as well as the observational and creative skills of Costume and Set Designers, to use camouflage and mimicry in their own natural habitat – the classroom!


Learning Targets


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"I Can" Statements

“I Can…”

  • I can define camouflage and mimicry, and tell the difference between them.
  • I can identify color, shape and pattern in my own clothing and in my classroom environment and make choices that create the effect of camouflage.
  • I can use my voice, body, and simple craft materials to create the effect of mimicry of another organism (a classmate) in my classroom environment.

Essential Questions

  • What are camouflage and mimicry?
  • How are color, shape and pattern important elements of camouflage and mimicry?
  • How can we use acting and design skills to explore camouflage and mimicry in the classroom?


Georgia Standards

Curriculum Standards

Grade 3:

S3L1 Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the similarities anddifferences between plants, animals, and habitats found within geographic regions (Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plains, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau) of Georgia.

b. Construct an explanation of how external features and adaptations (camouflage, hibernation, migration, mimicry) of animals allow them to survive in their habitat.

Arts Standards

Grade 3:

TA3.PR.1 Act by communicating and  sustaining roles in formal and informalenvironments.

TA3.PR.2 Execute artistic and technical elements of theatre.


South Carolina Standards

Curriculum Standards

Grade 4:

4.L.5B.3 Construct explanations for how structural adaptations (such as methods for defense, locomotion, obtaining resources, or camouflage) allow animals to survive in the environment.

Arts Standards

Anchor Standard 2: I can design and use technical elements for improvised scenes and written scripts.

Anchor Standard 3: I can act in improvised scenes and written scripts.


Key Vocabulary

Content Vocabulary

Adaptation - A change by which an organism becomes better suited to its environment.

Mimicry - An adaptation by which an organism copies the physical or vocal characteristics of another.

Camouflage - An adaptation by which an organism visually blends into its surroundings by virtue of its shapes, patterns, and coloring.

Habitat - The natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.

Arts Vocabulary

Voice – An actor’s tool, which we shape and change to portray the way a character speaks or sounds

Body – An actor’s tool, which we shape and change to portray the way a character looks, walks, or moves.

Set Design - The creation of the physical space in which the action of a performed event takes place.

Costume Design - The creation of clothing and accessories for a character in a performance.



  • Drum or percussion instrument (optional)
  • Images of camouflage and mimicry in the natural world (from textbook, class resources, or the internet)
  • Sound clips of mimicry (optional)
  • Multi -colored pieces of construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue


Instructional Design

Opening/Activating Strategy

Animal and Habitat Statues
Use a drum, percussion instrument, or clapping to establish that students will form statues in response to a single beat and then relax out of the statues in response to a double beat.  Remind students that statues do not move, but that they must allow themselves to breathe and blink.  Provide a series of prompts of animals and habitats that fit with the lesson, e.g., parrot, cheetah, lizard, butterfly, owl, etc.; and rainforest, desert, tundra, prairie, etc.  Use observational language to comment on specific physical choices that students make to create their statues (e.g., “I see that Caitlyn has her chest low like a stalking leopard,” or “Donté’s arms are straight back like a grasshopper’s wings.”


Work Session

Number Statues

  • Define and discuss camouflage.  Show examples of camouflage from the natural world.
  • Introduce the concept of camouflage in the classroom.  Model by looking for colors and patterns that mirror your own clothes.  Find a place in the classroom where you can approximate blending in.  Prompt students to say, “Where’s Ms. _______?  We can’t see her!”
  • Discuss how, in theatre, television, and film, costume and set designers make intentional choices about costumes and sets used in the production.  Explain that students are going to be like designers, making choices based on colors, shapes, and patterns in the given costumes and settings in the classroom.
  • Invite a volunteer or two to step up.  Have the class identify colors, shapes, and patterns both on the volunteers and around the classroom, and brainstorm ideas for the volunteers to camouflage themselves in the classroom.
  • Model being a predator, looking for prey (the volunteers), and passing them by because they blend into their surroundings.
  • Have students partner up and work together to identify camouflage opportunities for each; when each is camouflaged, have the other act like a deceived predator.
  • Have volunteers share examples of the camouflage opportunities they found around the classroom.
  • Define mimicry; share examples (visual and perhaps aural) from the natural world.
  • Remind students about the roles of designers; explain that they will use simple materials to create external adaptations to mimic other organisms (classmates).
  • Model with construction paper, scissors, and glue.  Select a student to mimic, and use the supplies to quickly create a ‘costume’ piece that mimics what that student is wearing.  Have the student come up and make a random sound.  Stand by the student with the costume piece, and mimic the sound.  Have the class say, “Look, it’s two ______s!”  (i.e., if standing next to and mimicking Tyler, the class says “Look, it’s two Tylers!”).
  • Discuss mimicry as a form of flattery, and impress upon the students that the activity should not be used in order to mock, tease, taunt, make fun of, or bully others.  
  • Have students use materials to create a costume piece to mimic other students’ visual appearance – primarily costuming, but hair is also a possibility.
  • Once students have created their pieces, invite volunteers to come to the front, and invite the classmates on whom they based their mimicry. Have the model make a sound, and have the mimic stand beside them and mimic the sound.  Have the class say, “Listen!  Look!  It’s two ______’s!”
  • Remind students that they worked together to understand mimicry, and have students thank each other for the honor of both mimicking and being mimicked.


Closing Reflection

Discuss:  How did we use elements of costume and set design – color, shape, and pattern – to bring camouflage and mimicry to life in our classroom ‘habitat.’

Students will draw a picture of themselves demonstrating camouflage or mimicry in the classroom. Identify the image as an example of either camouflage or mimicry.  Identify the areas and objects in the classroom that were used for camouflage or the classmate on whom the mimicry was based.




  • Observe student comprehension of camouflage and mimicry as they make artistic decisions in the lesson.
  • Observe how students use color, shape, and pattern to successfully create the effects of camouflage and mimicry.



Evaluate the student drawings for evidence of comprehension of camouflage and effective use of design concepts in the lesson activity.



Acceleration: For mimicry, have students pair up; have one create a distinctive sound and movement, and have the other mimic it as precisely as possible.

Remediation:  Lead a slow visual tour of the classroom as a class, identifying specific colors, shapes, and patterns, and making connections with individuals to provide ideas to be used for camouflage.

Allow students to adjust objects in the classroom environment to facilitate the camouflage effect.

Rather than mimicking one another, have all the students mimic the teacher.

*This integrated lesson provides differentiated ideas and activities for educators that are aligned to a sampling of standards. Standards referenced at the time of publishing may differ based on each state’s adoption of new standards.

Ideas contributed by: Barry Stewart Mann, MFA

Revised and copyright: August 2022 @ ArtsNOW