The bewitching night is not just a quiet time for sleep, but sees just as much activity as the daylight hours. From dusk till dawn, nocturnal animals rise from their homes and haunt the nights. These creatures are on the prowl for sustenance and socialization.
Often, these night dwellers get a bad rap as scary or troublesome. Bats have been wrongly labeled; when in fact, they help control the bug population. A fun activity to attract, these beneficial creatures is building a bat house. The Organization for Bat Conservation has created a website which touts all things bat beneficial. After learning how to host a bat family, children can explore how bats hunt. Echolocation has several activities which demonstrate the process in fun activities which show how bats locate food.
Raccoons are the squirrels of the night. They are infamous for being able to get into even the most impenetrable garbage can and dumping out the contents. Their aptitude for being able to get to a food source could prove a fun way to introduce problem solving for children. Have the family work on various raccoon prevention traps or devices and rate the success of the "machines". Alicia's Garden Sanctuary lists humane raccoon and squirrel prevention methods. It can be fun to create records of each method's effectiveness. Flying With Adam Raccoon has children learn reading with fluency, an important skill for public speaking and reading out loud.
Owls are seen as wise. Their hooting can fill the night air, reminding humans that it isn't all dark and quiet at night. The Owl Research Institute is collecting data on owls. There is a downloadable file, which details all the pertinent information needed for the research. KidWings has a virtual owl pellet dissection. It is a fun and less messy way to learn about how owls ingest the whole animal, bones and all.
The night doesn't have to be scary, or the creatures intimidating. A simple family night picnic can produce wonder and delight. Eating under the stars, and playing hide and seek with constellations can be educational and fun. The Constellations and Stars website lists what is visible in the sky during each month.
Nocturnal Animal Lesson Plans:
Nocturnal Lives has students participate in a game of tag. Children are divided into either prey or predator and try to evade or capture each other.
Crime Scene Critters has children create bait traps for animals. They record the tracks around the various food stations. Graphs can be used to chart the data collected.
Tasty Constellations has children recreate constellations using marshmallows. Research of the stars is encouraged.