Last Friday I had the honor of attending a workshop by children’s author Conrad Storad. Interesting fact: In a short time he will surpass his goal of reading his books to over 1,000,000 children. Yes, that’s 1 million children. Amazing!
In his newest picture book, The Bat Book illustrated by Nate Jensen and Tristan Jensen, Conrad Storad uses a story within a story format to engage young readers. He also throws lots of science into the mix.
In the book Little Boy Bat, the main character who lives under the famous Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, decides to write a book to help humans learn bats are not frightening. The result is both enlightening and fun.
Children will probably be interested to know that Tristan Jensen was 8 years old when he did some of the illustrations for the book. His contributions are on pages 13-22, with some more detailed insets created by his dad.
The back matter is stuffed. There are two pages of “Facts to drive you batty,” information on “Researching Bats,” “How to Help Bats,” all about Little Boy Bat (what kind of bat he is, etc.), notes from the author and illustrator about how they created the book, and “How to Draw a Bat” activity.
The Bat Book is full of passion about bats and that enthusiasm is sure to spill over to the reader. Don’t be “scared” to pick a copy up today.
Disclosure: This book is my personal copy. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.
Bats are so fascinating. When the National Geographic Reader Bats by Elizabeth Carney came across my desk, I knew it was time to come up with some fun science activities to do with bats.
About the book: Bats is a reader level 2, for children 4 to 8 years old. It is full of gorgeous full-color photographs, accurate scientific information, and at the top of some pages are silly riddles and jokes that kids will love. The photograph of baby fruit bats all cuddled in blankets at a bat rescue nursery is too cute for words. This book is a great way to find out more about bats!
1. Bat Anatomy
One of the first things you notice about bats is their large wings.
If you look closely you can see their wing is similar to our hand. The tiny hook protruding from the top is the thumb and the long, narrow “fingers” have a thin layer of skin between them. Because of this scientists gave bats the name Chiroptera, which is Greek for “hand wing.”
Have the children draw the outline of a bat (you might want to provide one to trace for really young children). Glue cotton balls where the body would go. Ask them to place their own hand over the wings, and figure out where the thumb and fingers should go. Glue toothpicks to represent the arm, elbow, thumb (a piece of toothpick), and fingers.
Older children may create a more complicated and detailed model. A helpful resource might be The Bat Book & See-Through Model by Luann Colombo and illustrated by Susan Hernday.
2. Different Kinds of Bats
Bats come in all sizes, shapes and colors. The largest are the fruit bats, in the group Megachiroptera. The largest can have a wingspan of six feet. The smallest bats belong to the group Microchiroptera. The tiny bumblebee bat has a body the size of a bumblebee.
Although the stereotype is of a bat living in a cave, bats may live in many places. One of my favorites is the Honduras white bat that makes a shelter out of plant fronds.
What do bats eat? A majority of bat species eat flying insects, including those pesty mosquitoes. Some eat animals such as frogs or fish. Fruit bats, as their name suggests, eat fruit.
Finger Puppet Show to Investigate Food Chains
Here’s a direct link to a .pdf download for “You’ve Gotta Eat to Live” food chain activity with moth and bat finger puppets to make from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.
4. How Bat’s Find Food – Echolocation
Bats are nocturnal, they are active and looking for food at night. In the darkness, the bats produce sounds. Some of the sounds are ultrasonic, which means we can not hear them. Other sounds bats make are within our hearing range.
The bats use the ultrasonic sounds to locate their food in a process known as echolocation. Their special ears allow them to pick up the echos of the sounds they make bouncing off of nearby objects. They can detect and avoid objects as small as a human hair using only sound.
Ever play the game Marco Polo? You close your eyes and try to locate other players saying “Marco Polo?” If you have, you know how difficult it is for humans to locate objects by sound.
Can you design a cupped ear extender out of a piece of paper that might help you hear sounds from around the room or further away? Look at bat ears for inspiration.
A cool science project might be to get an ultrasonic bat detector and search for bats at night.
5. Build a bat house.
In some areas you can provide a bat house for bats.
We built a bat house a few years ago, but later found out bats don’t use them in the Sonoran Desert, probably because of the heat (birds don’t use bird houses here, either). Check around for information about bats that live near you and find out whether they will use a bat house if you provide one. If so, there are instructions online how to build them.