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Blending in

To consider the pressure to ‘blend in’ rather than ‘stand out and be different’.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To consider the pressure to ‘blend in’ rather than ‘stand out and be different’.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. We are going to consider two creatures found in our country that have amazing camouflage.

    Show the images of ptarmigans.

    The ptarmigan is a plump gamebird, a member of the grouse family. It lives, for example, in the remote areas of Scotland where the highest mountains are to be found. The ptarmigan is a master of camouflage. In the summer, the bird is a mixture of grey, brown and black feathers above with a white belly and wings. This enables the bird to blend in beautifully with the lichen-covered rocks of the highlands. In winter, the ptarmigan is completely white, except for its tail and an eye patch, which remain black. Try spotting one of these in the snow! You can see why in North America the ptarmigan is called a ‘Snow Chicken’. Then, as spring turns into summer again, the bird moults, shedding its white feathers and growing brown ones.

  2. The mountain hare is similarly clever at camouflage.

    Show the images of mountain hares.

    Found in Scotland and also on the moors in Derbyshire, as well as other places in Europe and the Northern Hemisphere, this animal has a grey-brown coat in summer and is almost pure white by November. The moulting process to change its colour is triggered by the seasonal changes in levels of daylight and temperatures.
  3. Both of these animals change colour to blend in with their environment and for protection. The remote habitat of the ptarmigan means that it has few predators, but the golden eagle is a real threat. The mountain hare, especially its young, is in danger from foxes, snowy owls and, in Greenland and North Canada, wolves. So, the ability to blend in to their environments comes in pretty handy.
  4. Soldiers use camouflage, too. Their khaki-coloured uniforms help them to blend in to grasslands and forests. Did you know that people moult, too, shedding skin every day? Fortunately we tend to be the same colour underneath!
  5. A Chinese artist called Liu Bolin has made an artform of ‘blending in’.

    Show the images of his work from the
    Daily Mail’s website.

    Can you spot the artist? What do you think his message is?
  6. The inspiration for his artwork was that Liu felt he did not fit in to modern society. He sees himself as an outsider whose artistic efforts are not always valued, especially in his native country where his studio was closed down by the authorities. Liu has felt that no one cares about him, that he is unnecessary in this world.
  7. What is not seen in Liu’s artworks is what really tells the story. By blending in with the backgrounds of his paintings, Liu makes a powerful statement about the pain of being unnoticed and unaccepted for who he is.
  8. Many people, especially young people, have a tendency to want to blend in with those around them. They do this by wearing the same clothes, the same trainers, liking the same music, going to the same events. They even try to copy how others speak and behave.  

Time for reflection

In our time of reflection today, ask yourself the following questions and try to answer honestly.

Do you wear your clothes because you like them or because everyone else does and is wearing the same?

Do you behave in a certain way because that’s your choice or because that’s how everyone else talks and behaves?

Do you listen to particular music because that’s the music you personally enjoy or because it’s what everyone else is listening to at the moment?

Courage is needed to stand out, to make a new statement.

Prayer
Dear God,
we know that everyone is uniquely made in your image. Each person has a different appearance, a different personality, different likes and dislikes and each one has particular gifts and talents. Help us to make our own statements and to know the freedom of being who we are.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Be thou my vision’ (Hymns Old and New, Kevin Mayhew, 56)

Publication date: May 2013   (Vol.15 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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