Bats Are Everywhere!
by Judie Haynes
Are bats blind? Do they attack people? Do they carry rabies? This thematic unit provides a change of pace to your study of animals. Help your students explore the scientific facts and myths about bats. Increase vocabulary, study animal classification, and add to knowledge about animals.
I like to begin this unit with a KWL chart. It is important to see where your students are in their understanding of bats. A typical chart reveals that many students think bats are birds and that they have feathers. They also believe that bats are blind and that they attack humans.
Do Bats Help or Harm People?
Grades 2-8; High Beginning to Advanced students.
Science concepts: Animal classification; bats;
Cultural concepts: In European cultures bats are portrayed as evil while in Chinese culture bats are good luck.
Bat vocabulary includes names for body parts of the bat; types of bats and words to describe what bats eat and where they live.
Books about bats (fiction and nonfiction);black construction, paper, outline of a flying bat.
This topic was taught over a wide range of grade and ability levels in three different ESL groups. My 2nd graders read "Stellaluna" and listed which parts of the story were fact and which were fiction. They also listened to a fact book about bats and collected bat facts. They learned to differentiate between a fact and a myth. Third and fourth graders read a factual bat book and made a list of vocabulary. They made a map to show where different types of bats live. Older students studied echolocation and endangered bats. They found the main idea in paragraphs and took notes from the writings.
- To introduce the unit, I asked students to tell me what they know about bats. We brainstormed a list and I wrote down every idea. This was done on every grade level.
- Next, I read Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon to my students in grades 2-4. This is a fictional story about a baby bat who loses her mother and is raised as a bird. I worked on predictions by asking students what would happen next in the story. I stopped at intervals so that students could write down their predictions. I explain to my students that good readers make predictions as they read and change them when they get new information.
- Students in grades 4-8 looked at fact books on bats around the world. These books are numerous and can be found in any library. For older students there are patterns to make detailed drawings to accompany writing.We discussed how some bats are becoming extinct. I asked students in grades 4-6 to respond to the prompt: "I saw a bat come in my window and fly across my bedroom." Students were then asked to describe the bat, tell how they felt when they saw the bat, and how they solved the problem of a bat in their bedroom.
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