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Coloration - Teacher's Guide

   Episode Overview
skunkJunior Naturalist Patrice explains how coloration is a structural adaptation that helps animals and plants survive in their environment. She joins Senior Naturalist Dave Erler to examine the coloration of the great horned owl. We take an up-close look at the skunk. Von and Marrissa visit with wildlife photographer John Green and learn how color plays a role in photography.
   Program Objectives

Students will:
1. Analyze how structural adaptations help organisms survive.

2. Identify coloration as a structural adaptation.

3. Give examples of coloration in living organisms.

4. List and describe different types of coloration. i.e. deceptive, mimicry, camouflage, advertising, countershading.

5. Recognize the distinct characteristics of the  great horned owl and the striped skunk.

6. Describe adaptations exhibited by the  great horned owl and the striped skunk.

Adaptation Mimicry
Structural Deceptive Coloration
Coloration Counter Shading
Camouflage Advertising Coloration
Pollination Scent Gland
   Previewing Activities

1. Have students name some animals and plants with unusual coloration and discuss how that coloration might help the them survive.

2. Have students name some ways color is used in human environments for warning, attracting and to camouflage or mimic.

   Post-Viewing Activities

1. Have students make a list of animals that use:
Counter Shading
Advertising Coloration

Then have them choose one of those animals and research it further.

2. Give students an outline of a butterfly. Explain that the classroom is the butterfly's habitat. Have them design an unique coloration pattern for their butterfly and write a brief paragraph explaining how the coloration of their butterfly helps it survive in the classroom environment.

3. Take a nature walk with your students and have them observe plants and animals and take notes about their coloration.

   Trials of the Toothpick  Bird

 Materials Needed

colored toothpicks
grassy area
recording sheets


Tell the students that they are testing which color tooth-pick would survive the best in a grassy environment. The students are to play the part of the rare toothpick bird.

Mark off a grassy area. Distribute an equal of each color toothpicks on the grass. Give the students 15 seconds to find as many of the toothpicks as they can. Record the number of toothpicks "eaten" for each color. Which color was the most vulnerable to the toothpick bird? Which one was the best protected?

Note: You can do this activity as a whole class, or you can break the class into small groups.

But We Can't Go Outside!
If you can't go outside to do this activity, or if you don't have a grassy area, you can replicate the activity by distributing a sheets of newspaper to each student and sprinkling colored confetti and cut-up newspaper. Make sure there is an equal number of each!
   Additional Resources

Web Sites
Animals from the Oakland Zoo
Animal fact sheets from the Oakland Zoo.

Animal Diversity Web
This site from the University of Michigan Musuem of Zoology includes profiles of hundreds of animals.

You will find photos and profiles of thousands of animals at this site.

Animal Hide-And-Seek (Bank Street Ready-To-Read, Level 2) by Teddy Slater, illustrated by Donna Braginetz 
ISBN: 0553375814
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell 
Pub. Date: March 1997
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
This book explores how animals use camouflage to hide.

Animal Dazzlers: The Role of Brilliant Colors in Nature by Sneed B. Collard 
ISBN: 053120362X
Publisher: Watts Franklin
Pub. Date: September  1998
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 11
This book reviews the role of bright colors in nature.

Animals Brightly Colored by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes 
ISBN: 0881069779
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
Pub. Date: March  1998
Reading Level: Ages 5 to 9
This book is arranged as a guessing game. Clues are given and the reader has to figure out what the animal is.

Bold and Bright, Black-and-White Animals by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, illustrated by Kendahl Jubb
ISBN: 0802786723
Publisher: Walker & Company
Pub. Date: September  1998
Reading Level: Ages 5 to 9
Find out more about animals with black and white patterns and how those patterns help them survive.

How to Hide a Butterfly & Other Insects by Ruth Heller 
ISBN: 044840477X
Publisher: Stern Sloan
Pub. Date: April 1992
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Find out how insects use camouflage.

How to Hide a Crocodile & Other Reptiles by Ruth Heller
ISBN: 0448402157
Publisher: Stern Sloan
Pub. Date: October 1994
Reading Level: Ages 4-8 
Find out how  crocodiles, turtles, and iguanas use camouflage.

How to Hide a Meadow Frog and Other Amphibians by Ruth Heller 
ISBN: 0448409658
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Pub. Date: July 1995
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Find out how amphibians like toads and salamanders use camouflage to "disappear."

How to Hide a Parakeet & Other Birds by Ruth Heller
ISBN: 044840964X
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Pub. Date: July 1995
Reading Level: Ages 4-8

How to Hide a Polar Bear & Other Mammals by Ruth Heller 
ISBN: 0448402165
Publisher: Stern Sloan
Pub. Date: October 1994
Reading Level: Ages 4-8 
Find out how mammals like the deer, zebra, and polar bear use camouflage.

Nature's Paintbrush: The Patterns and Colors Around You by Susan Stockdale 
ISBN: 0689810814
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Pub. Date: May 1999
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
This book looks at colors and patterns in the natural world.

Searchin' Safari : Looking for Camouflaged Creatures by Marc Nadel, illustrated by Jeff O'Hare
ISBN: 1563978172
Publisher: Boyds Mills 
Pub. Date: October 1999
Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Darwinsim and Its Data: The Adaptive Coloration of Animals by Muriel L. Blaisdell
ISBN: 0824072537
Publisher: Garland Publishing, Incorporated
Pub. Date: January  1992
Reading Level: Adult
This book addresses the coloration of animals, and in particular mimicry.

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