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The Mixed Up Chameleon: A Scratch Project

Boston ScratchEd Meetups Organizer Janet Dee explores digital making inspired by a work of art.

Teachers often inquire how to integrate Scratch into traditional content areas. Boston ScratchEd Meetups Organizer Janet Dee brought this question to a recent ScratchEd Meetup, asking, “How do we translate an art project into a Scratch project?”


This art activity, which Janet came across in her granddaughter's preschool class, is inspired by Eric Carle's The Mixed Up Chameleon, a classic children’s book. The project involves cutting a chameleon shape out of a paper plate, then painting an additional plate and placing it underneath the chameleon cutout, and connecting the two plates with a brad. The resulting product is a chameleon that changes colors as you spin one plate atop the other.


Photo Credit:


The chameleon plate, Janet thought, could be recreated with Scratch, so that students can learn about coding while also making something artistic out of a piece of children’s literature.


The first iteration of Janet’s Scratch project was inspired by the final product of the chameleon plate: When you point your mouse in one direction, the plate will follow, exposing new colors beneath the chameleon.



After speaking with some of the Meetup goers, Janet began to wonder: how could you have the user imitate the watercoloring portion of the chameleon making activity? Would it be possible? After some tinkering, Janet developed the most recent iteration of her project in which the user paints the background space on their own, and then chooses when to have the chameleon plate appear.



The Chameleon project is a great example of how to integrate Scratch into content area classrooms. While creating their digital chameleon, this project encourages students to think simultaneously as artistic designers (“What should this look like?”) and creative coders (“How could I make this work?”). The project reflects both the value in remix — Janet took the paper plate project and thought, “I could make this on Scratch!” — and the power of iterating and breaking down an idea with others to develop a new project.


Thank you Janet for this great resource!


The original inspiration for the scrach project is a popular pre-school art activity. It can be found here:

Janet’s First Chameleon:

Janet’s Second Chameleon:

Kathleen Phelan
Love this project idea and literary connection. Thank you for posting. 
Juhapekka Ollikainen
Simple yet challlenging project, thanks for posting!