In the springtime, I love reading books about insects, bugs, and all things nature-related. And this year, I added another unit about animals that camouflage to bring in some of my daughter’s preschool standards she needs to learn. Our favorite books and activities for chameleons and other animals that share this adaptation are included below.
Best Read-Aloud Books for Chameleon Camouflage Activities
It is fair to say I’m obsessed with books! I was a teacher for eight years before tutoring privately and being a SAHM. So the list below are all my favorite books for this topic about camouflage, but I’ll make another list soon about other animal adaptations books as well as rainforest books that are a seamless follow-up unit for children after this week-long study about animals. There are affiliated links below for books and products I LOVE using at home with my kids. I also earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Affiliate.
Invisible Lizard by Kurt Cyrus and illustrated by Andy Atkins
My children marveled at the illustrations in this book over and over again. They loved discovering all the hidden plants and animals on the pages, including the chameleon. I also used this book for word work with the letter s. The author did a fantastic job picking exquisite words to link in pairs or groups of three for most pages in the book. So as we read the book, I would pause and have my daughter find the words with the letter s. One of our favorite examples from the book was, “Napoleon flashed his flashiest colors and sashayed up and down the spiffy limb.” Then I would repeat these words. Next, we would look for the words that had the same sounds on each page. The alliteration in this book is perfect! We love this book so much! 🦎
The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle
The book The Mixed-Up Chameleon has been read repeatedly in my house the last few months. My kids love the funny form the chameleon transforms into after each page. As a parent, I love the message of the story about being comfortable being yourself and appreciating who you are. As a teacher, I found this book was an excellent initiating activity to use for multiple other activities. Included below are some of our favorite activities we do as follow-up activities for The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle. For other Eric Carle book activities that we have done, please visit my Eric Carle book Activities post.
A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni
This book is simple and perfectly written for younger children to enjoy. It is a great book to talk about colors and mixing colors. It also is a great book to read at the beginning of spring as it talks about the changing of leaves throughout the four seasons. But what I love most about the book is how the illustrations blend so beautifully throughout the book; it makes for a perfect art project for children after reading to make their own chameleon and help their character find “their own color” like the chameleon in the book was able to do.
Masters of Disguise Camouflaging Creatures & Magnificent Mimics by Marc Martin
Illustrations found in this book are captivating. My children were transfixed on each page, trying to find many hidden animals throughout the different habitats. This book is ideal for teaching about animal adaptations, habitats, compare and contrast animal and plant characteristics. We ended up playing the “I spy with my little eye” game while rereading this book again and again, trying to find new animals and plants hidden on the pages.
Camouflage Chameleon Activities
Do A Dot Paint Chameleon Craft
Materials Needed for Do A Dot Camouflage Chameleon Activity :
- Do a Dot Paint
- Print out of chameleon shape (I recommend printing on cardstock)
- Construction paper with chameleon shape pre-cut out for tracing (optional)
- Baby wipes or cloth for the cleanup
- Laminator (optional)
Process to Set-Up Do A Dot Camouflage Chameleon Activity
Gather Do A Dot paints, paint trays, baby wipes, chameleon shape print out
I drew an outline shape of a chameleon on white copy paper and turned it into a three page document I linked above and below for your use. I would use cardstock or construction paper to print the document. The paper almost tore when my daughter added her last layer of dots for her painting. My kids paint on black trays that clean up with water and soap or even just a baby wipe. I also ended up laminating the finished product so if you use regular copy paper it can work.
Then I gave my daughter Do A Dot paint and let her have fun creating her chameleon. She went entirely outside the lines, which is fine because I cut it out in the end anyway.
We added our finished chameleon to our bulletin board and will eventually transfer him (once laminated) onto our word wall tree. We used regular glue stick to glue a popsicle stick to our chameleon before adding him to the tree in our playroom.
But another fun idea is to use different colors of green and brown paper and have your child build a tree for the chameleon to rest on, like the book Invisible Lizard.
Sponge Chameleon Painting
I outlined a chameleon onto a thin sponge using a sharpie marker. Then I carefully cut around the lines until I was happy with the shape. I turned my shape into a document for you so don’t worry if you are not the most artistic person, just click the link below for a PDF of the two different designs I used for my sponges. I used regular kitchen scissors to cut on the sponge.
Then I set up a paint tray with various colors of finger paint and washable Crayola paint to add to the sponge.
We used foam paint brushes from Michaels that also will double for making the tree and leaves that the chameleon will sit on. The link above to the paint brushes is not an affiliated link, I just love this product! I waited for a 40% coupon to purchase this one, we use these brushes almost daily.
Then my kids added the paint to their sponges and had fun creating their designs.
My kids slowly placed the chameleon on the paper. I helped my little one and pressed firmly down on the paper. We got three imprints from each cycle of adding paint to the sponge.
For darker, richer colors, you can also try acrylic paint. I avoid it with my little one when my toddler is painting with us.
After the kids finished using the sponge, I drew a tree branch on their paper to finish coloring. We also used Do A Dot Paint to finish making a rainforest background for the painting.
Another option is to cut out the chameleon once it is completely dry and glue it onto a popsicle stick and use it as a puppet. We did this to add to our word wall tree mural.
My kids love pretending to be animals. So after reading The Mixed-Up Chameleon, flipping back through the pages, I pick an animal from the book, and my kids flutter like a flamingo, waddles like a penguin, or trumpet like an elephant until they have acted out almost all the animals from the book.
To make this activity even more educational, you can have your children compare and contrast the characteristics of the animals they are pretending to be.
To show a visual, you can then show the book’s page; this could also help remind them of the movements that these animals make if they needed help.
National Geographic has a great set of alphabet flashcards that would be perfect for this activity if you wanted to extend this activity to an ABC activity. We bought our seton cards from Dollar Tree.
Eric Carle’s book Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You Hear? It would be a great follow-up activity after this activity as well. For more activities about this book, please see my blog for Eric Carle Book Activities.
Eric Carle Painting Technique Camouflage Background and Animals
We use Eric Carle’s painting techniques all the time. His website has great resources to see him as he paints. I give the kids multiple different shapes, and sized paintbrushes and paint try with various colors. The children then cover the entire page with different colors, forming whatever patterns they want. Using the other end of the paintbrush, they make squiggle or lines over the page to give it a different design.
Another option is to use different textures as paint brushes such as sponges, forks, textures brushes from lakeshore learning, or foam brushes. My kids love experimenting with various tools and see what works best. They painted and added layers of textures to cover the page entirely.
We let the painted paper dry for hours. After we tested to make sure the paper was ultimately 100% dry, we laminated the paper. Then I put it in the Cricut machine and cut out animals’ shapes from the books we have been reading. Lastly, we added our creations to our rainforest wall we have been creating.
Camouflage Sensory Tray for Invisible Lizard Retelling Activity
Since my kids enjoyed discovering where the lizard was on each page in Invisible Lizard by Kurt Cyrus, I decided to put together a sensory bin to play with and use it as a way to check for comprehension from the story while my daughter had fun. It looked incredible and took me under five minutes to set up. My daughter helped clean up, so it was a simple, easy, fun activity for all!
Materials for this Activity:
- Green colored rice
- Painted chickpeas
- Book- Invisible Lizard by Kurt Cyrus & illustrated by Andy Atkins
- Sensory bin
Tools and Additional Loose Parts:
- Bugs, insects, chameleon, monkey, parrot animal figurines (Not an affiliated link- we LOVE this product and use it everyday!)
- Hand lens
- Tongs, scoops, cups,
The process to Set Up Camouflage Sensory Bin:
- Scoop the legumes around the tray to form a tree branch.
- Fill in the rest of the base of the tray with green rice.
- Then add some chickpeas around the legume tree branches to create leaves.
- Add some figurines from the book; chameleon, monkey, butterfly, etc.
- Set up tools and additional bug & insect figurines.
- Read the book to your child and have fun with the sensory play.
My kids loved trying to hide the animals in the sensory bin and mixing the colors to form a new tree shape. They pretended to be characters from the book as well. When they finished playing, my daughter turned the mixture of greens and browns into a capacity activity snd used various size cups and containers to fill up.
If you want to try an additional sensory activity with this book and materials, please see the Invisible Lizard book Activities post.
Preschool Florida Common Core Standards Used for these Activities
VI. Scientific Inquiry Domain B. Life Science 1. “Demonstrates Knowledge related to living things and their environments.”
Focus Skills from the above benchmarks:
- Find similarities and differences
- Identify characteristics of a variety of plants and animals
- Life cycle
- Living vs. non-living
- Adaptations (needs and habitats)
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