The Nature Friends program is for 4- or 5-year old children with an adult. The maximum group size is 20 child-adult teams. Programs are outside unless weather does not permit.
I am small and like to eat flying insects.
I have strange arms so I can fly.
I come out at night.
I don’t fly in people’s hair.
I have fur on my body.
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Bats: Creatures of the Night by Joyce Milton
Ask children if they would like to feel inside the mystery box, which has some bat related item inside. It may be a plastic bat, a piece of fruit that is pollinated by bats, a plastic insect, etc. Assure them that you whatever is inside will not hurt them and is not alive. Ask the children to describe what they felt. Show them the item and discuss why it was selected to be inside the box. Discuss bats and related topics showing pictures, puppets and props.
- What do bats eat? Insects, fruit, nectar, fish, frogs, mice, and birds.
- All bats that live in the United States and Canada are insect eaters.
- What do bats in Iowa eat? Insects, up to 600 in one hour.
- Are all bats black? No, bats come in a wide range of color. Pure white, spotted black and white, all different shades of brown. We sometimes think they are black because our eyes cannot see color at night.
- Will bats fly in your hair? No, they can avoid something as fine as a human hair when flying.
- How do bats catch insects to eat? They use echolocation. The bat sends out high pitched sounds that bounce off objects. The echo that the bat hears helps the bat catch insects and avoids objects.
- What are some ways bats help us? Bats eat lots of insects in Iowa. Products that bats help provide for us include: bananas, breadfruit, avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes, cloves, cashews, carob, balsa wood, kapok, and tequila. Show examples.
Activity: Modified Bat and Moth Game
- Have the children make a small circle together. Hold hands.
- Have the adults make a larger circle around the children.
- Have the children put on the bat blindfold mask or close eyes. Adults then take 3 steps to the right. They are no longer right across from their child.
- The children then call out “bat” and their parents need to answer “moth” while slowly moving in a circle to the right.
- The children need to find their parent by the sound of their voice. Some children may be scared when blindfolded or with eyes closed. Try having parents pretend to be the children and they can be blindfolded instead.
Bat Scent Game
Mother bats will leave their young hanging in a colony of many baby bats. When they come back, one of the ways they identify their young is by using their sense of smell.
- The film containers contain slips of card stock colored with scented markers. Make sure to recolor the slips ahead of time. Make sure there are two containers of each scent.
- Pass out film canisters making sure each parent-child team has the same scent.
- Have children make a small circle.
- Have parents make a circle around children.
- The adults then put on the bat blindfold mask.
- The adults must locate their child by finding the same scent container.
Snack: mangoes and bananas
Finger Play: Five Little Bats
Five little bats hanging upside down.
The 1st one didn’t make a sound
The 2nd one said, “I’ll fly far tonight.”
The 3rd one said, “I don’t like sunlight!”
The 4th one said, “I want to eat a bug!”
The 5th one said, “Let me give you a hug.”
Five little bats hanging upside down,
Sh-h-h! It’s daytime. Don’t make a sound!
The following puppets were used
white bat – Honduran white bat; fruit eaters, live in tropical forest
dark brown bat – big brown bat; eats insects, lives in Canada and South America
light brown bat – Gambian Epauleted fruit bat; fruit eaters, live in South Africa
gray bat – hoary bat; eats insects, live throughout the United States
black bat – Indian flying fox (has brown ring around neck); eats fruits, lives in tropical area
Bats Eat Bugs by Steve Van Zandt
Bats eat bugs they don’t eat people.
Bats eat bugs they don’t get stuck in your hair.
Bats eat bugs they eat insects for dinner.
That’s why they’re flying up there.
Tuttle, Merlin D. America’s Neighborhood Bats. 1988. Cornell, Joseph. Sharing Nature With Children. 1979.
Laubach, Christyna M., John Bowles and Rene Laubach. A Guide to the Bats of Iowa. 1988.
If you would like to add a craft, check out our “Make a Bat” craft from Warren County Conservation Board found in the arts and crafts section.
Activities provided by:
Polk County Conservation Board
Nature Friends is funded by Polk County Conservation Board, West Des Moines Park and Recreation, and the Des Moines Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.