This activity was included in our Amazing Adaptations Discovery Kit in summer 2020 for children ages 9-12. We are making one activity from each age group available for all to enjoy.

Introduction

Many different forms of wildlife use defensive mechanisms to survive in the wild. For example, some plants (roses and berries) grow thorns to keep animals from eating their leaves and fruit. Some animals (skunks and stink bugs) release chemicals to keep predators away. Another type of defensive mechanism is being brightly colored to discourage a predator's attack. For example, monarch butterflies feed on milkweed, which is toxic to many birds. If a bird eats a monarch butterfly, it will often get sick. The bird will then remember the monarch’s bright orange and black color and avoid eating them.

Mimicry is another survival tactic. The viceroy butterfly has a similar color pattern to that of the monarch butterfly. Birds will avoid eating viceroys because they know what the monarchs taste like and want to avoid getting sick. The viceroy will not be eaten simply because it looks like the monarch. Without defensive mechanisms and tactics like these, many wild creatures would not survive. In this activity, you will create a creature that has a defensive mechanism.

Materials

  • Foam cup
  • Toothpicks
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Craft supplies

Instructions

  1. Gather the materials listed above for this activity.
  2. Your task is to create an organism that meets one of the following criteria. Your organism:
    • Lives near water, is an insectivore (eats insects), and enjoys sunlight.
    • Lives in a forest, is an omnivore (eats plants and animals), and is nocturnal (active at night).
    • Lives in a tree, enjoys eating berries, and is diurnal (active during the day).
  3. Think about the type of defensive mechanisms your organism should have to survive in the wild.
  4. Think about the types of predators that might prey upon your organism. What should your organism have that will help it to survive?
  5. Use the materials to create your organism.
  6. Clean up your supplies when you are finished.

Reflection

  • Describe your creature to a family member.
  • What is the name of your creature?
  • On what criteria did you base your creature: a, b, or c?
  • What defensive mechanism did you add to your creature? How will it help it survive?

Other Discovery Kit Activities