In the spirit of the season, Alison Galloway’s Grade 1 class has been spending a lot of their time studying bats. In preparation for their trip to the Francis King Regional Park, the students created pictures of bats during Art class, chanted bat poems and studied the book Stellaluna.
The students enjoyed impressing the park guides with all they had already learned about bats, including that the smallest bat was the bumble bee bat and the largest is the flying fox bat. Since bats are the only mammals that can fly, the class has also taken an interest in what makes an animal a mammal.
“Bats are mammals because they feed milk to their babies,” explains Meredith. Thomas points out that they also have fur, another quality of a mammal while Anna adds, “They’re warm-blooded.”
In order to show how humans, which are also mammals, are like bats, one of five parent volunteers was decorated with fur, ears and wings. They also got to see a few real bats up close, though they were no longer alive. The students also sounded out the scientific name for their subject matter, Chiroptera, which comes from Greek words for ‘hand’ and ‘wing.’
On their trip, the students explored a lightning-struck tree where bats hibernate in the winter, and got to mimic baby bats to demonstrate how mothers find their young. Echolocation, how bats find their prey, was acted out by the students using a wild-life version of Marco Polo, featuring a blind-folded ‘bat’ and several fluttering moths.
While hiking through the woods, they learned that all bats on Vancouver Island are insect-eaters, and there are only about 10 kinds of bats on the entire island, though there are over 1000 species world-wide. For being such well-behaved explorers, the students received sheets to make their own bat crowns when they returned to class.