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Volume 6, Issue 17
October 27, 2008
Theme: Bats



People often cringe at the mention of the word. Yet, bats are really beneficial to humans. Found throughout most of the world, these mammals consume countless insects -- moths, beetles, gnats, and more. In fact, one little brown bat can catch more than 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour! Help your students gain an understanding of these secretive creatures and their fascinating characteristics.

Susan LaBella
Editor, Early Childhood Education Newsletter



Bat mothers find their babies, called pups, by recognizing the pups' cries and by how they smell. This game will help teach the idea that bats have superior hearing. Before the activity, make duplicate stacks of word cards. Each set should include these "sound words" -- hiss, hum, peep, squawk, buzz, cluck, caw, yip, coo, and tweet -- and others. Arrange students into two groups: bat mothers and bat pups. Have each mother choose a card from one stack and each pup choose a card from the other stack. Be sure students don't tell one another their sounds. Ask "mothers" to wait in the hall while the pups start making their sounds. Mothers should return to find their own pups. Students should compare cards to confirm their match. Finally let groups change roles and play again.

Talk briefly about the balance of nature and its importance in the survival of plants and animals. Explain that bats are an important part of nature's food chain. To illustrate this concept, give each child four paper plates. Invite them to draw a flower on one plate, a moth on another, a bat on the third plate, and an owl on the last one. If you prefer to provide images for students to color, cut out, and paste on their plates, you might click the following links to coloring pages: flower, moth, bat, and owl. Use strips of construction paper and a stapler or paper fasteners to connect the plates in a "chain" that illustrates how one species requires another to survive. Talk about other examples of the food chain in nature. Ask: What might happen if bats were to become extinct? (Students might share that owls would lose one of their main sources of food, which might lead them on the path to extinction.)
Images used in this activity:
flower: http://www.activitycoloringpages.com/
moth: http://www.in.gov/dnr/images/cecropia_moth.jpg
bat: http://www.bangladesh2000.com/info/mixedanimal/bat.jpg
owl: http://www.lucylearns.com/images/dot-to-dot-pages-coloring-pages-elf-owl...

Read to children Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon. Talk about similarities and differences in people and animals. Ask: What would it be like if all people looked the same and acted the same? What about animals? Then create a large Venn diagram on the board. Use the diagram to compare bats and birds. Jot down student responses. Review the final diagram together.

On the left side of an easel pad, write the word BAT vertically. Explain to children that an acrostic is a kind of poem in which each letter of a word begins a line of poetry. Tell children that together you will create an acrostic using the word BAT. Remind children that the line of poetry can be a sentence, a short phrase, or just a single word. Explain that the poem does not need to rhyme. When you have completed the poem, let children draw a picture to illustrate it.

Explain that some bats inhabit caves to stay safe and to sleep. When bats sleep they hang upside down. Let children create a bat cave in order to understand why this is a good place for bats to sleep. Bring in several appliance boxes; tape them together to form the "cave. Children may wish to paint the outside a dark color. Hang tubes from rolls of toilet paper painted brown as upside-down bats. Hang pairs of cut-out paper bats from the top of the cave. Place pillows for small groups of children to sit on when they visit or want to look at books inside the bat cave. Discuss why caves are safe places from predators. If you want to take the bat cave idea even farther, see The Classroom Cave.

Use a serrated knife to cut any type of plain chocolate wafer cookie into quarters. Take two quarters and place on a plate about 1/4-inch apart. Melt enough chocolate kisses to total about 4 ounces. Drop about 1/2-teaspoon of melted chocolate between the two cookie quarters to connect them. Smooth the melted chocolate into a circle and let cool. Serve and wait for the "Yums."



Check out the following Web sites for additional background and activities.

Bat World
Banish the myths and stories you've heard about bats.

Batty Math Worksheet
Print this out for your kids to practice their addition facts and color.

Bat Conservation International
The definitive bat site.

Bat Mask
Print out this template for kids to make a bat mask.

Halloween Bat Clips
Simple instructions to make cute Halloween decorations.