Surviving as a Worm for the Birds

Part of the "No Monkeys, No Chocolate" Collection


Students will learn about animal adaptations.

Estimated Time

30 Minutes

Setting Required



  • S4L2. Students will identify factors that affect the survival or extinction of organisms such as adaptation, variation of behaviors (hibernation), and external features (camouflage and protection).
    • a. Identify external features of organisms that allow them to survive or reproduce better than organisms that do not have these features (for example: camouflage, use of hibernation, protection, etc.).
    • b. Identify factors that may have led to the extinction of some organisms.



  1. Spread out equal numbers of three colors of pasta on the ground in a grassy area of the school yard and line up the class on one side of the area.
  2. Explain to students that they are going to pretend to be hungry robins looking for worms (pasta). Their goal is to collect as many worms as possible between the times the teacher calls out “hunt” and “freeze.”
  3. At the end of each round, record how many worms of each color were collected. At the conclusion, analyze with students why there may be a difference in the number of worms of each color that were found and eaten. Discuss whether camouflage was an effective adaptation for the “worm” that contributed to the survival of one particular colored worm.
  4. Remind students that adaptations may not develop in a single generation and not by choice but rather as the result of a specific trait that increases its chances to survive and reproduce. Over generations, traits that are less adapted to survival (including colors that contrast with the environment) can disappear from a population because those worms don’t survive long enough to reproduce.