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You Can’t See Me

On-Site Pre-trip Post-trip


In this activity, students will look for colored items placed in a wooded or grassy area on your school grounds. Some toothpicks are easily found because they are contrasting in color to the area. Natural camouflage prevents some colors from being easily found. This activity can be used with The Camouflage Trail.


Scatter the pipe cleaners or toothpicks in a designated area. Allow three to six students in the area for one minute at a time. After each group has searched for one minute, make a bar graph of the colors found by each group in the order that they went. The brighter colors are easier to find and will most often be the ones the first group holds up.

Critical Thinking

  1. Why were some colors found before others?
  2. Compare the amount of objects found by the first group to that of the last group.
  3. Which colors did the last group have to find?
  4. Why was it more difficult for the last group?
  5. Discuss how this concept applies to animals and insects.
  6. Why are some animals brightly colored?


  1. Have students observe coloration in animals, insects, and plants around the sand dunes.
  2. What kinds of colors do they see?
  3. Look for examples of insects and animals in the Visitor Center.
  4. Compare the coloration of these animals with the colors of the environment at Great Sand Dunes.


Adapted from Educator's Guide to Great Sand Dunes, by Lori Cooper, Friends of the Dunes.

Learner Outcomes

Students will understand the importance of natural coloration and camouflage in survival, considering the colors of various animals found at the park.


First through fourth

State Standards

Science: 1st grade 2.2; 2nd grade 2.2; 4th grade 2.1
Math: 1st-4th 3.1

Group Size

Three or more


Thirty minutes


School yard, Great Sand Dunes pinyon-juniper forest (near campground)


Colored pipe cleaners, toothpicks or thumbtacks, butcher paper, colored markers
Colors: red, blue, green, natural, brown etc. (30 of each color)
Use colors that are contrasting or blend in to the environment.


adapt, camouflage, environment, morphology


Be sure to clean up the area very well after this activity, especially if it is done on-site. Plastic or foreign materials, if eaten by wildlife, might make them ill.

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