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Learning from the Animal Kingdom – Chameleons

The fifth in a five-part series about lessons we can learn from the animal kingdom

by Philippa Rae

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To highlight the quality of adaptability with reference to chameleons.

Preparation and materials


  1. Show the images of chameleons.

    Ask the children if they can identify the animal.

  2. Ask the children to look carefully at the images and describe the different features of the chameleons, both their similarities and differences. Ask if anyone can give more details about chameleons.

  3. Explain that chameleons are a type of lizard. There are many different varieties of chameleon and they are usually found in warmer climates that range from desert conditions to the rainforest. Chameleons are also sometimes kept as pets. They come in a range of colours and some can change colour to match their environment. This feature is mainly used for camouflage and communication. However, chameleons such as the desert-living Namaqua chameleon use their ability to change colour to help regulate their body temperature. They change their colour to light-grey to reflect the heat when they are hot and change to black when they need to absorb heat more efficiently.

  4. Optional: play some snippets from the National Geographic video, ‘Beautiful footage: chameleons are amazing’, available at:

  5. Explain that chameleons can adapt themselves to changes in their immediate environment. They do so quickly and efficiently.

  6. Ask the children if they like it when things change. Use a range of appropriate questions to consider changes that they might have experienced, such as the following examples.
    - What do you feel like when you move into a new class?
    - How does it feel when a friend moves to a different part of the country?
    - Have any of you moved house? How did you feel?

  7. Some changes are regular, such as changing teachers at the start of each new school year. Some changes are fun, such as visiting somewhere new on holiday. Some changes are both fun and slightly worrying at the same time. For example, a new baby joining the family is exciting, but having slightly less attention for a while can be difficult. Sometimes, we decide to make changes ourselves. We might decide to try a new hobby, try harder in school, tidy our bedroom or eat fewer sweets! Some changes are difficult to make, but can be beneficial.

  8. Point out that some people don’t seem to mind change, but others can find it very difficult. Many people like to have a regular routine because knowing what is happening next gives them a sense of security. Most of us feel safe when we are with people we know and trust. Sometimes, change can bring uncertainty and make us feel insecure.

  9. Everybody will experience change at different points in their lives. Life is continually moving. Some changes are small, or happen naturally and gradually over a period of time. Others happen suddenly and can have a big impact on our lives. Sometimes, we can feel overwhelmed and wonder how we will cope in certain situations.

Time for reflection

Show the image of the life cycle of a butterfly.

Explain that change will go on throughout our lives. Change is a natural part of life, and we need to learn to understand, accept and cope with changes that come our way. When changes happen, we need to learn to be adaptable, like the chameleon. However, unlike the chameleon, we can always ask for help! Sometimes, we need to learn resilience - we need to take a deep breath and learn how to cope – but we never need to do this all on our own.

Encourage the children to speak to an adult whom they trust if they are struggling with any changes in their lives.

Dear God,
Please help us with the changes we face in life.
Please help us when we find things difficult.
Please help us to be patient with other people when they are struggling.
Please help us to act with kindness and care.

Publication date: May 2017   (Vol.19 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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