The Living Edens-Etosha: Classroom Resources
The Big Hideout

Lesson Objectives
Tools and Materials Needed
Estimated Time to Complete Lesson
Teaching Strategy
Helpful Web Sites
Assessment Recommendations

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this activity, students will:

1) identify the camouflage used by some of the animals in the Etosha pan.

2) construct an "animal" that uses protective coloration, mimicry or patterns to prevent detection.

3) compare the effect of a camouflage pattern in a new situation.

Related National Standards


1) Knows that plants and animals have features that help them live in different environments.

2) Knows how variation of organisms within a species increases the chance of survival of the species, and how the great diversity of species on Earth increases the chance of survival of life in the event of major global changes.

3) Knows that changes in the environment can have different effects on different organisms (e.g., some organisms move in, others move out; some organisms survive and reproduce, others die).

Tools and Materials Needed

1) copy of the program "The Living Edens: Etosha"

2) rulers

3) glue

4) paint

5) drinking straws

6) collection of a variety items that will include colored feathers, felt, wood, clay*

7) large doll eyes*

*Note: items should be available at any crafts store

Estimated Time to Complete Lesson

This activity will take 2 to 3 days to complete as written. It may be modified to take as little as one day if the hunt is not done. Day one: introduce the ideas and make the "animals." Day two: have class members search for animals. Discuss what was used to make them hard to find. An extra period will be needed to watch the video.

Teaching Strategy

Background Information

Animals live in a dangerous world where the general rule is "protect yourself or be eaten." Defense and protection can take many forms, however.  Animals use camouflage to try to become indistinguishable from the background through the use of color, patterns or resemblance to something else. Excellent examples are found in the Etosha video. Most students are familiar with camouflage clothing but have failed to

notice the patterns within the coloring. These patterns are an important part of disguising items that may be as large as a tank or as colorful as some snakes. It is through these defensive protections that enough of a population survives their predators (or is able to catch enough prey) to be able to reproduce to the next generation. The students will devise a camouflage pattern for their straw animal and then attempt to hide it from other classmates in the classroom. Once the activity is over, it is repeated in an outside area to observe how some patterns work well in one habitat but not in others. Procedure

1) While watching the video, stop and discuss how the various animals blend into the background for protection from predators. Good clips: Zebra as it passes brush (located at 2:33 into the program) Birds blend with rocks (located at 7:00 into the program) Elephants the color of mud (located at 14:00 into the program) Frogs resemble rocks (located at 24:00 into the program) Group of springbok (located at 31:45 into the program)

2) While discussing the video, stop and discuss how the predators must hide from the prey as they approach within striking distance. Good clips: Lioness in brush (located at 2:30 into the program) Cheetah in brush (located at 10:53 into the program) Lions and cheetah in brush (located at 42:00 into the program)

3) Discuss how camouflage is used in the western world to disguise military machines, cellular phone towers and industrial sites such as medical waste incinerators.

4) Give each student a drinking straw. The straw must be colored and disguised to hide in plain view in the classroom without being found. Students must glue two doll eyes on the straw and may use any of the provided materials. They may also use natural material from the outside.

5) The students are divided into two halves. One group waits outside the room while the others hide their creatures. The second group is brought into the room and searches for the animals. Stop after every 30 seconds and group the creatures that have been found during that time period.

6) Discuss what characteristics the easy to find animals had in common and the characteristics of the harder to find ones.

7) Repeat the exercise in an outside area and compare the results.


Helpful Web Sites

How Stuff Works: Animal Camouflage

Useful site explaining various techniques for animal camouflage.

How Stuff Works: Military Camouflage

This site covers military uniforms, gear, facepaint and quarters.

Biomes of the World

This text article from the University of Puget Sound describes the major biomes of the world. It is useful for exploring the adaptations in other locations.

Assessment Recommendations

Students may be evaluated by participation in the camouflage discussion and in the development of the camouflaged animal activity. A paragraph can be written describing the reasoning behind the pattern that was used on the straw. A rubric can be developed that will include a written description, the animal and the length of time that it takes for that creature to be found.


1. Have students place different colored straws around the classroom. Selected students find as many of them as possible in a limited amount of time. Graph the results to see which color provides the best camouflage in the classroom.

2. Using only colored pencils or crayons, students can draw pictures of animals hidden in a scene. Assign various habitats such as a muddy water hole, an open and dusty plain, a grassland or brush land.

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