“The Mixed-Up Chameleon” Lesson Plan

Teachers’ Names: Anna Crittendon, Curtis-Lynne Edens, Allie Linnerud, Caroline Templeton

Art Lesson Title: The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle

Grade/Age Level: K3-K5 (3 to 5 years old)

Rationale/Goals: This will serve as an arts integration lesson that will form a connection between art and literacy. Students will be read The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle, and after this introductory activity, the children will have an opportunity to create an art project in which they can create a visual and meaningful connection to which they have read. Students will practice watercolor paint transfer and will have the opportunity to complete an enrichment activity in which they see the results of mixing primary colors to create secondary colors. This activity is important because it will provide students with an opportunity for creativity and self-expression. The activity will connect to the children’s daily lives. Each chameleon that is created will be unique; no two will truly be the same. We will discuss that this is representative of us as people; we are all different but equally special. The lesson also is significant in the world of art because it will provide students with a variety of artistic skills (painting, using art supplies, water colors, etc.) that will help them to develop artistic creativity.


South Carolina Academic Standards for the Visual and Performing Arts
Creating Works of Visual Art

Standard 1: Creating Works of Visual Art–The student will demonstrate competence in the use of ideas, materials, techniques, and processes in the creation of works of visual art.


VAK-1.1 Use his or her own ideas in the creation of works of visual art.

VAK-1.2 Identify the materials, techniques, and processes used in a variety of works of visual art.

VAK-1.3 Use all art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Students will be able to create a visual representation of a chameleon using tissue paper, water, and paintbrushes in order to demonstrate their skills in the arts technique of color transfer. Formal: Students will demonstrate color transfer skills with the finished chameleon craft.


-Instructors will supervise the activity to ensure that students are creating the chameleon.

-Instructors will observe to ensure that students are correctly applying knowledge and skills of color transfer.

Exploring Content

Standard 3: Exploring Content– The student will examine the content of works of visual art and use elements from them in creating his or her own works.


VAK-3.1 Identify and describe content used by artists.

VAK-3.2 Select and use appropriate subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate his or her ideas through works of visual art.

After viewing images in The Mixed-Up Chameleon, students will be able to apply the art skills used in the book (i.e. watercolor) in order to create a visual representation of a chameleon. Formal: Students will create a visual representation of a chameleon using watercolor and paint transfer skills similar to those used in the children’s book.


-Instructors will facilitate discussion about the art techniques used in the book. (This will be mentioned immediately after reading the story.)

-Instructors will observe to ensure that students are using appropriate materials and techniques.

Making Connections

Standard 6: The student will make connections between the visual arts and other arts disciplines, other content areas, and the world.

Students will be able to focus on the reading of The Mixed-Up Chameleon in order to understand the way that a chameleon changes colors. Informal:

-Whole-group discussion

-Instructors will ask comprehension and application questions while reading the book, and the students will raise hands OR shout out their answers (depending on age of students) in order to respond appropriately.

-Teachers will observe to be sure students are facing the instructor during story-time. Students’ gaze should be focused on the instructor.

South Carolina Early Learning Good Start, Grow Smart Social Emotional Standards
(SE1. Children will demonstrate a positive sense of self.)

SE-4K-1.1 Describe characteristics of self and others.

Students will be able to apply knowledge of individual differences (i.e. colors of chameleon) and discuss the ways that everyone is different. Informal:

-Whole-group discussion

-Students and instructors will discuss the color-changing process of chameleons. This will transition into conversation about how each person is different.

-Students will pair and share. Each student will tell his or her partner one thing that makes him or her special.


  • Students who struggle with fine motor skills and are unable to use a paint brush may use their hands to press the tissue paper onto the construction paper. This will assist in transferring the color from the tissue paper onto the white construction paper.
  • Students who show a need for extra assistance will receive one-on-one instruction from a teacher or supervising parent or guardian.
  • To simplify the activity, teachers can limit the amount of tissue paper provided to each student.
  • To extend the activity, students could be given the sensory bag before leaving the room. This would allow for time to explore the effects of mixing primary colors.

Key Concepts:

Vocabulary: Chameleon

Skills: watercolor, paint transfer, sensory bag, mixing primary colors to create secondary colors, using a paint brush, using a spray bottle, fine motor skills

Concepts: Each person as a unique individual

Lesson Sequence:

  1. The materials will be set up on the tables before the children enter the room.
  2. We will place all the trays with paper on them, provide all of the tissue paper on the table, and provide the construction paper with the outlined chameleon.  
  3. We will greet the children and families as they enter the room and gather them onto the carpet or steps.
  4. An instructor will read the story The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle.
    1. The instructor should attempt to engage students while reading the story. Perhaps ask about the colors in the book, explain what a chameleon is, and create motions that correspond with certain parts of the story.
  5. After reading the children’s book, the instructors will discuss with the children and families that everyone is special in their own way. We will talk about what it means to be unique.
  6. The instructors will give directions and model the activity while students remain in the reading area.
    1. Instructors will explain the instructions of how to place the tissue paper onto the pre-drawn chameleon.
      1. Students will tear the pieces of tissue paper as they please. There will be pre-torn pieces for students who are unable to tear the tissue paper on their own.
        1. Instructors and parents/guardians will assist with craft when needed.
        2. The instructors will model how to actually tear the tissue paper and place it on the chameleon.
      2. Students will arrange the squares and rectangles on the paper in whatever way they like.
      3. Depending on the skill level of the children, they will either spray or paint the tissue paper with water.
        1. If the tissue paper is not touching, it will not bleed on the the paper.
    2. Explain how to use the paint brushes and water with the tissue paper.
  7. After directions are given, the children will be instructed to go to the tables and sit in a chair with one of the trays in front of them. Students will be told not to touch any materials until after the instructors tell them to begin the activity. (This will only be for a brief amount of time as the activity should promptly begin once students are seated.)
  8. Allow the children to create their own chameleon using the provided materials.
  9. Once students are finished, allow the chameleon art work to dry on the counter until all crafts are completed.
  10. Instructors will facilitate discussion about the students’ experience. We will focus on the process of making the chameleons and as well as the reasons why the children made their chameleon they way they did. (This discussion will be held at each individual table as opposed to a whole-group discussion.)
  11. Instructors will hand each child a bag with the pre-drawn chameleon on it. Each bag will be filled with the two colors of paint. Bags will be taken home for children to explain the mixture of primary colors.
    1. Explain how to mix the paint inside the baggie for the take-home enrichment activity.
  12. After everyone leaves, clean up the paint brushes, water, leftover tissue paper, trays, and materials brought to the museum.
    1. Create a smooth transition for the next group teaching.

Materials, Supplies, Tools, Visuals, and Equipment:

  • Smocks for children to wear during activity
  • Trays for each child to use during completion of activity
  • Ziploc baggies (15) with chameleon outline on each
  • Clear packing tape
  • Red, blue and yellow paint
  • Heavyweight white construction paper with large chameleon outline on each piece
    • Chameleon will be drawn in black crayon so it will not bleed with the tissue paper
  • Brightly colored tissue paper of all colors
  • Watercolor paint brushes
  • Cups of water
  • The Colorful Chameleon by Eric Carle
  • Sharpies (to label bags for each child)
  • Instructions for parents on how and when to remove tissue paper
  • Finished product of color-transfer chameleon to use as an example
  • Finished product of sensory bag to use as an example

Visual Samples of the Artistic Product(s):

Color Transfer Chameleon and Sensory Bags

Lesson Reflection:

Throughout three years of field placements, perhaps this was one of my favorite experiences thus far. On November 9, Caroline Templeton, Curtis-Lynne Edens, Allie Linnerud, and I had the privilege of teaching an art lesson at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, South Carolina. We used our creativity along with our pedagogy in order to formulate and teach a lesson to young children in the museum. This was a rather challenging experience for me. I was encouraged to create an open-ended lesson that would form a clear connection between art and other areas such as content knowledge and social-emotional development. Our group chose to teach a lesson on The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle. After reading the story, the children completed an activity in which they used water and tissue paper to paint a picture of a chameleon. The lesson was certainly a learning experience for those involved; through reflection and constructive criticism, I have gained knowledge and faced challenges that will equip me to be an effective early childhood educator.

Designing the actual lesson was very challenging. From the very beginning, our group knew that we wanted to teach a lesson that connected literacy and art. Choosing the story and the activity were quite simple. However, writing the lesson plan was slightly difficult. It was very challenging to find standards that were appropriate for children at such young ages. It was also difficult to determine which social-emotional standards we wanted to implement. We finally chose a standard related to the positive expression of oneself. This was an excellent way to tie in uniqueness and special qualities to a story about a chameleon that was only happy after being itself. It was much easier to design the lesson in a group than to design it as an individual. We were able to encourage and support each other in order to create the best possible lesson. For instance, when I was unable to create well-worded objectives, Curtis-Lynne came alongside me and helped me to form objectives that were specific and appropriate for the students involved. Overall, designing the lesson was a very enjoyable experience.

Implementing the actual lesson was incredibly rewarding. After working for months on the lesson plan, our group was able to see our ideas come to life. I believe that we implemented the lesson very well. We split it up into four different components so that we were each able to participate. Curtis-Lynne read the story, I led a small group discussion about being unique, Caroline explained directions for the craft, and Allie explained directions for the take home activity. However, implementing the lesson was fairly challenging. We expected to have students between the ages of three and five years old, but we only had two students who were 13 months and 18 months old. This meant that we had to reach students with diverse learning needs. These children do not have the communicative, cognitive, or fine-motor skills of the children whom the lesson was designed for, so we had to reevaluate a few aspects of our lesson at the very last minute. These children needed a lesson that used words they were capable of understanding as well as an art activity that was appropriate for their fine motor skills. To meet these needs, we provided one-on-one instruction during the activity and limited the discussion that occurred, instead placing a higher focus on the book and its pictures. This allowed us to engage the students who were not yet at the level of development that was expected.

Despite this slight change in plans, the lesson went very well. We were enthusiastic and tried our best to connect with the two girls who attended. We did so by asking questions about the book, focusing on the child who was attentive, and also trying to gain the attention of the child who was highly distracted. We had a young boy show up towards the end of the lesson; we tried to engage him but he showed little interest in the activity. While reading the story, Curtis-Lynne used a warm and welcoming tone that gained the attention of the children and encouraged them to participate in the use of hand motions. After realizing that the children were much younger than we expected, we were able to implement flexibility to design a lesson that was appropriate for the students. I limited the conversation about uniqueness, instead choosing to explain that everyone was special, just like the chameleon who had so many of his own colors. The art activity also went very well. Pre-ripping the tissue paper was very beneficial because the children did not possess the fine motor skills to do this on their own. It also helped that we had multiple people sitting at the table who were able to assist the children in the craft. The mothers were the primary helpers, but we were able to use clear directions and explicit instruction to help the craft run smoothly.

Though the lesson went well, there are certainly aspects that I would change to improve the lesson in the future. I would include more accommodations in the lesson plans that include enrichment activities for older children and simpler activities for younger children, especially if the exact ages are unknown. This would create a developmentally appropriate activity in which all children are able to participate. In addition, I would limit the number of tissue paper pieces for each child. I would also wait to hand out materials until all students are sitting quietly and have a clear grasp on the instructions for the task. I would also brainstorm more questions to ask during the story in order to engage the children. The children were very distracted, so questions, hand motions, or sound effects would be beneficial. Limiting the number of toys in the reading area would also be helpful, but once again, this was out of our control under these circumstances. Lastly, I would conclude the lesson as a group. Perhaps this could be done by having the students share their artwork with one another or by having a discussion to wrap up the craft.

Fortunately, this experience taught me about myself as a teacher and also helped to teach me the importance of working with colleagues. I have always been a bit of a “control freak,” so working with my group members proved to me that a group effort is well rewarded. Our strengths were able to come together, and we were able to use each other’s weaknesses to better shape the lesson into the desired final product. I realized that it is important to have an open mind so that no option is immediately excluded from consideration. Being open-minded creates channels through which creativity flows, and this certainly helped us to formulate a fun and enriching lesson for the students. I realize that I have the ability to tie content areas, such as literacy, into artistic activities so that the students are able to learn in fun and creative ways. I also learned that I am capable of being flexible. When it was time for me to lead discussion about uniqueness, I realized that I needed to simplify this in order to put it in an appropriate context for such young children. I was able to quickly remodel discussion prompts in order to do so. I am grateful to have had an experience that taught me so much about not only content connections but also pedagogy. It truly was a phenomenal experience that helped to shape me into an even better educator.


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