Toothpick Worms

Judy Hobson TAMS
3500 State St.
Chicago IL 60616
(312) 808-0100

Objectives: The objective of this lesson is to let students experience the role of color in camouflage. Materials needed: 100 colored toothpicks, consisting of the same number of 4 different colors. (Colored pipe cleaners can be substituted.) Be sure to have each color counted before "seeding" the feeding ground. 1 Spring-type clothes pin (to simulate bird's beak) per child A bucket of mud for nest formations Disposable rubber gloves An area of approx. 20 square meters where toothpicks of one color will blend in well. For example, a freshly mowed area for green toothpicks. Ahead of time, prepare the feeding ground by placing EACH different color evenly throughout the area, as well as sticking them in the ground vertically. CAUTION: have all participants wear thick-soled shoes as the toothpicks do pose a safety hazard. Strategy: 1. Tell the students that they will be playing a game in which they will become birds. These birds have only one source of food-toothpick worms. 2. Remind each group of 4 students that they will have to build a nest to which they will bring their worms. Review previous lesson on nest materials. The Field Museum has Habitat boxes in the Harris Center for loan. Order 2 weeks ahead of time. 3. One bird per group will be led to the feeding ground, eyes closed. Upon opening their eyes, the birds will pick up the FIRST worm spotted with the clothes pin beak. Return to nest with the worm, and deposit it there. RULES: Only one worm per flight can be picked up. Birds don't care what color worms are, so they must fly down and pick up the first one seen. No hovering, keep moving while searching for worms. 4. After each student has gathered two or three worms, it is time to stop feeding. Return to the classroom to count the worms by color, by making a data chart and graphing the result. Performance assessment: Ask students these questions: What color worm was hardest to find? Why? If you suddenly became a worm, what color would you want to be? Why? What would have happened if the background was a different color?
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