Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nature Study: Bats (Much to the Dismay of My Husband)

We didn't plan on studying bats. At least not on that particular day. However, how timely was it that Barb just published "May Nature Study: Bats, Revisited" on The Handbook of Nature Study, just days before.

We had spent the day cleaning and doing inside stuff (which is an issue fellow gardeners can probably relate to, when gardening beautifies the outside of your home, but keeps you from getting the inside of your home up to speed). My husband and youngest son had long since retired, and I was trying to get some end-of-the-day paperwork done before going to bed (but my eyelids kept getting in the way). At about 10:00, I gave in, and went to bed.

At about 10:30, our 7-year-old flew into our room, yelling "There's a bat in my room! It was just hanging on my light, and now it's flying around!" And, indeed, it was. But when you live in a house that was built in 1896, you expect it to have cracks and critters, on occasion.

Meanwhile, the dog was trying to nip the poor fellow ("fell-ette?") out of the air as it swooped by. Here's how Malik told the story, in his nature study notebook:

The bat I saw was big. I was terrified of it. My mom said it only ate mosquitoes, but I didn't believe her, when I found out about vampire bats. Vampire bats are small, blood-thirsty, glow-in-the-dark-eyed devils. But this was a brown bat, not a vampire bat. The bat eventually flew out the back door. My mom turned on all the lights and that drove it crazy. Do not read this if you're under 5 years old.

We followed up by following some of the links from Barb's May newsletter (above), by some notebooking and research (using pages from the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog), and by making a flip book of the anatomy of a bat, from Enchanted Learning, which has lots of bat activities and notebook supplements. We need to return to the May newsletter, because there was so much to do, that we ran out of time!

For more information on the mosquitoes that the bats love to snack on, check out The Notebooking Fairy (click on the icon on the sidebar for freebies).

As luck would have it, while we were working on bats, we went on our weekly trip to the public library, which has been tempting me weekly with a summer book sale. I picked up a beautiful book, Wild Science (Victoria Miles), which had a 4-part chapter on bats:

  • I. "From the Field: Bat-tized" (about how researchers study the habits of bats using mist nets, radio transmitters and reflective wing tags) [see video]

  • II. "The Scientist: Janet Tyburec" (about a field biologist working on a National Geographic study on bat nurseries and how we can protect them) [An article on the major groups of bats, featuring Janet Tyburec; a great kid vid on the secret life of bats, from National Geographic for Kids]
  • III. "The Science: Echolocation: Seeing in the Dark" (the manner in which microbats find their food) [How Stuff Works has a great article on echolocation: "How Bats Work"]
  • IV. "The Animal Notes: Silver-haired Bat" (a close-up look at one of the more than 1,000 bat species in existence today) [Defenders of Wildlife has an article showing the distribution of bats world-wide, and much, much more]

For more animal fun, take my animal tracks quiz ("Follow Those Tracks! Take an Animal Tracks Quiz") and see the new animal updates on How to Teach Everything Through Nature: Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo ("Follow Those Tracks!").

Follow our family's outdoor adventures in our family journal, "The Urban Farmer" -- our most recent entry is on the Third Thursday Street Festival in Willimantic, Connecticut.

Looking for resources to use for summer learning, homeschool or summer school classes? Check out CurrClick for free and low-cost materials on all kinds of topics. Subscribe for free weekly updates, links to online clubs, and much, much more!

Sample "freebie" - Project-based Marine Biology (live class recording)

Happy Father's Day to All Our Dads!