Butterflies and moths have many different methods they use to protect themselves from their enemies. Some have an unpleasant taste when eaten. Some sting or bite. And when they take on the patterns of the trees, rocks, leaves and flowers around them, making it harder for their enemies to find them, it’s called "camouflage".
Here’s a game can be used over to help your kindergartener better understand the concept of camouflage and also work to develop her visual discrimination skills!
What You Do:
- Talk to your child about the concept of camouflage as you take a walk outdoors. Look for a local nature trail where you’ll see trees, plant leaves, and rocks. Can you find any “camouflaged” insects? If you own any camouflage clothing, you might also want to show her a piece and take it into the woods to show how it blends with surroundings.
- Once home, it's time to start! Cut 10 large leaf shapes from the wallpaper books.
- Cut 10 butterfly shapes from the same sheets of wallpaper to match the leaves.
- Cover each leaf and butterfly with clear adhesive/contact paper or laminate them if possible. This will enable your child to play this matching game over and over. Then stick a square of Velcro in the center of the back of each butterfly, and a matching square in the center of each leaf. Try to make sure that the square is pretty much in the same place on every butterfly and every leaf.
- Start by showing several of the leaves to your child. Ask which butterflies would hide best on those leaves and why.
- Place all of the leaves and butterflies at the center of the table for your child to match independently, and let your child take turns matching each butterfly to the appropriate leaf.
- Now you're ready to take "camouflage" to a new level, around the house and yard. While your child plays with something else for a few minutes, take each matched wallpaper camouflage set around the house, and lay it around other items that "camouflage" it. Now send your child - and perhaps a friend, too - on a butterfly expedition. Can they find each butterfly in its "natural" habitat?
This easily-to-make game can be played over and over and is a great addition to your rainy day activities. Don’t be surprised if your child will now examine trees, leaves and the grass a little more closely in search of “camouflaged creatures” - and celebrate that the lesson has taken hold!
Victoria Hoffman, M.A., taught kindergarten through fifth grade for 12 years in both the regular and special education classrooms. Currently, she is a writer and mother living in Leonardtown, Maryland.