Night, Nocturnal Animals & Halloween

Fall is a great time to study the night, nocturnal animals and even carry this theme over into  Halloween activities.

Unit Vocabulary - night, moon, star, nocturnal,  bat, owl (add other animal names as you study them), sleep, adaptations, predator 

A story is read each day during the class time that relates to the topic.

Some nocturnal animals in our area (northeastern Wisconsin) include: badgers, bats, cats, crickets, firefly, fox, owls, moths, mouse, opossums, raccoons, skunks, otters, and snapping turtles.

Unit bulletin board idea - put up black background paper with a large tree shape (possibly leafless if applicable for your area), as the various topics are discussed have students create items to correspond and place on the board.  Add the title in white letters-Into the Night.

Day 1

Discussion - night - lead students through the discussion.  Assure them there is no need to be afraid of the dark.  The night or dark time of day was created for us to get rest and sleep.  Ask: What are things that happen in the night? Do certain animals come out at night? What time do you go to bed? Do you use a nightlight?

Vocabulary activity - write the word night on the board.  Have students tell words that start with the same letter as night-make a list. Or have students tell rhyming words-light, fright, remember that words like kite, bite, etc. rhyme but do not have -ight.

 Day 2

Discussion - What do you see at night?  The moon and stars.  Have students look at various night sky pictures via the Internet.

Look at the Milky Way - http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/constellations/mw/MilkyWay.html

Astronomy picture of the day - http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

Ursa major - http://www.allthesky.com/various/umaumi.html  

Art - students will create their own constellations using black or dark gray paper for a background and white or yellow paper for stars and a moon.

Day 3

Discussion - define nocturnal animals - Nocturnal animals are more active at night than during the day.  "Can you think of animals that come out at night? Bats, raccoons, owls, skunks, etc."  The nocturnal animals sleep during the day usually in a burrow or a den.  Many nocturnal animals that live in the desert come out at night to escape the high daytime heat.  Special adaptations of nocturnal animals may include: special eyes that see well in the dark.  Special ears that enable the animal to have good hearing (like rabbits).  Some nocturnal animals, like bats, use echolocation.  This means that the animal emits a high-pitched sound which bounces off objects; this sound is received by the animal, giving it information about the object's shape, direction, distance and texture.  Use this information to begin a Nocturnal Animal Fact Sheet.  Plan to add information as the unit progresses.  Idea-cut out huge black shapes of nocturnal animals and write facts/information on each shape with white crayon.

Cooking - nocturnal animal shape toast - toast bread, use cookie cutters to make animal shapes, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Day 4

Owl discussion - Owls come out at night because many of the animals they eat are also nocturnal, mice and other small animals.  Owls eyes are very large which make it easy for them to see at night.  Owls are silent fliers.  Their feathers are specially designed to be very quiet.  The owl surprises his prey and swiftly flies down feet first to grab it.  The owl will usually carry his prey back to his perch or nest where he will eat it.  Owls will lay 

Owl fact sheet - http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/nathis/birds/owls/owlfact.htm

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/birds/printouts/Owlcoloring.shtml (Great for younger students.)

Owl Art Project - make this cute owl from 3 paper plates, construction paper and a few other craft items.  http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/animals/owl/ 

Day 5

Discussion - crickets, fireflies and moths - Idea-cut out huge black shapes of a cricket, firefly and moth,  write facts/information on each shape with white crayon.

crickets 

-jumping insects

-males make a loud chirping sound by rubbing their forewings together, they do this to attract females

-chirp faster when the temperature is warmer

-live under rocks and logs

-crickets are ominvores-they eat both plants and animals.  They scavenge dead insects and eat decaying material, and young plants.

-birds, rodents, reptiles, other insects (beetles and wasps) and spiders eat crickets

fireflies

-also known as the lightning bug

-glow a bright yellow-green color from the the very end of the firefly

-use their glow to attract other fireflies

-they are carnivores (meat eaters), they eat other insects including other fireflies

moths

-they are like butterflies

-dull colored with feathered antenna

-generally come out at night, they are attracted to the light

Art - nighttime picture - children cut out moth or firefly shapes from yellow or white construction paper.  Glue the nocturnal insects on a black or dark gray background.

Day 6

Booklet - Cave of the Nocturnal Animals - (see  http://home.att.net/~cattonn/night.html  for the original idea)  Cut out a cave shape from gray construction paper.  Make a book with 5-7 blank pages.  As the children study the various nocturnal animals they draw the animal in their book or they can use pictures provided by the teacher.  Write a fact to correspond on each page.

Day 7

Discussion - raccoons - live in a variety of habitats.  Have a life span of about 6 years in the wild.  They have a black "mask" around their eyes, bushy tail with black rings.  They have clawed feet.  Raccoons are omnivores.  They have a varied diet: frogs, crayfish, birds, mice, fruit, nuts, plants and garbage. 

Cooking -  Use sugar cookie dough have students cut out star and moon shapes.  Prior to bake sprinkle with yellow sugar.  Enjoy your 'night' snacks!

Day 8

Animals of the night mobile - Copy the animal pictures on construction paper.  Students color the pictures.  Assemble the mobile using 2 thin sticks (found outside) and string/yarn.

Day 9

Halloween - allow children time to talk about Halloween.  Lead them into a time of paragraph writing.  On a large sheet of pumpkin shaped paper write one of the following paragraph starters.  Children will tell the teacher what to write.  If desired, have the children copy the paragraph into their journals.

It was a dark night when...

As I counted all the candy in my bag I heard...

Our Halloween party was so much fun, we...

The moon in the night sky looked like...

You won't believe this story, but on Halloween night...

 

Day 10

Halloween - 

Print out this reading comprehension story - http://www.abcteach.com/Reading/images/CARVING%20OLD%20JACK.pdf

Monster Descriptions - As a group, draw a picture of a monster, be sure to have all students contribute to the drawing.  Next, write a description of the monster, be very detailed in writing the paragraph.  For example, our monster has a large, round, green head.  He has 5 purple eyes, 2 orange noses and 1 red mouth.  The monster's body is a square shape about the same size as his head. On his body...  Finally, give the paragraph to another group of students.  They will read the paragraph and draw the monster.  Now compare the pictures!  Do they look the same? Did you write a detailed, descriptive paragraph?  Maybe your class would like to exchange paragraphs with another class.

Day 11

Halloween - Cut out several Halloween related shapes (witch, pumpkin, bat, etc.)  Place the shapes under a sheet of orange paper, using a black crayon take a rubbing of each shape.  You might want to try black paper with a white crayon.  The children love how the shapes magically appear!

Cooking - Pumpkin Toast - toast a slice of bread.  Cut the shape of a pumpkin using a cookie cutter.  Spread the pumpkin with peanut butter, this will act as 'glue' for the face parts.  Supply the students with coconut, raisins, grapes, chow mein noodles, etc.  These items will be used to make a face on the pumpkin.  Give the students directions on how and what to use to make the face, they will listen and follow directions.

Websites to visit:

For coloring pages - http://www.enchantedlearning.com/coloring/nocturnal.shtml

Label bat parts - http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/mammals/bat/label/external/

Halloween Activities:

Skeleton maze - http://www.benjerry.com/halloween/maze-med.html

Word search - http://www.benjerry.com/halloween/ws-easy.html

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