Insect Survival - camouflage

(4th grade, 45-55 min)


The student will draw conclusions regarding the advantages of camouflage in nature; the student will also observe the consequences of environmental alteration, whether natural or man made, and the process of natural selection

Science TEKS (grade 4)

Adaptations increase survival of species
9a: observe and identify characteristics that allow survival

Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
3c:represent natural world using models, identify limitations

Scientific inquiry
2d: communicate valid conclusions


black and white newspaper (no colored ads)
black construction paper
black poster board (approx 8 sheets)
cardboard moth cutouts
pencil or colored marker (not black)
timer or watch
data chart


The teacher should place various colored paper moths around the classroom or outside; some should be plainly visible, others should blend well with the surface. Have the students try to find them. Ask the students which were easiest to find and why. Also ask students which moth they would want to be if they could choose.


Have the students pair up (teacher may want to assign partners). One member of each group will trace and cut out 20 black construction paper moths. The other member will trace and cut 20 newspaper moths. While students are occupied with this task, the teacher should spread out in a long line several sheets of newspaper. Then place a long line of black poster board parallel to the newsprint. Once the students have completed the cutouts, have the students line up along the newsprint. While one member of the pair faces away, the other member spreads all 40 moths on the newsprint, making sure they are interspersed. The teacher then has the partner turn and, when it is time to begin, the student will bend down, pick up ONE moth and stand up; repeat for 20 seconds, making sure to stand completely after each one. When time is up, partner #2 records the number of black and newsprint moths collected. The group then moves to the black paper and repeats, switching jobs. If the class is large, half the groups can begin with the newsprint while the other half starts on the black paper; then reverse. Once the activity is completed, the teacher should compile the data for the entire class and ask questions regarding the results, leading the children to observe any patters and associations.


sharp edged scissors; use caution


The students should realize the connections between coloration and background colors. The students should also connect that when an environment is altered by humans or by changes in climate, variations may or may not help the insect survive.


The teacher may want to relate this activity with the actual historical significance of the peppered moth in England during the industrial revolution. Point out how the peppered moths were able to survive well until the settlement of soot caused the habitat to appear blackish. At that point, what had been a mutation became an adaptation and vice versa.


English: students could write a newspaper article about the phenomena as though there were living during the industrial revolution. They may also try a debate for and against pollution control

History: students could research other documented occurrences of environmental change and the resulting change of species adaptations

Math: students can run several trials and take averages to determining the frequency with which the expected results occur; graphing can also be used

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