Why bats are not birds fun homeschool unit study and lapbook is an easy way to do a unit study with multiple ages of children.
Too, I’m mentoring Mr. Munch King now and he is doing kindergarten/first grade level work. However, you know there are many bat activities to find for younger kids, but not so much for older kids. My lapbook is geared toward older kids.
I know you’ll love these activities and unit study resources for a fun bat unit study.
Free Bat Unit Study
(A bat) . . . is no bird but a winged mouse; for she creeps with her wings, is without feathers, and flyeth with kinde of skin, as bees and flies do; excepting that the Bats wings hath a farre thicker and stronger skin. And this creature thus mungrell-like cannot look very lovely. By John Swan
Bats are located on nearly every continent and make up 25 % of the mammal species found in the world. There are over 1400 species of bats.
Why Bats Are Not Birds
However, bats are not bird. Bats are mammals and belong to the group Chiroptera. Chiroptera means “hand-wing,” referring to how the finger bones support its wings.
What is a Mammal?
Because a bat is a mammal, look at these characteristics of a mammals.
- They are vertebrate animals that nourish their young with milk.
- All are warm-blooded.
- At some stage in their development, they have hair, although sometimes it can disappear before birth.
- True mammals give birth to live young.
Bats are the only mammal capable of flight. Several other mammals are capable of gliding for long distances.
On the other hand, birds belong to the group Aves. So bats are not featherless birds.
Bats are divided into two types of sizes: Megachiroptera, which means large bat, and Microchiroptera, which means small bat.
Further, look at some of these features of bats:
- they sleep by day
- they fly by night
- in bone structure, a bat’s arm and hand are similar to other mammals
- as mammals they give birth to live young and nurse them
Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind. They do have small eyes and sensitive vision.
In addition, bats come in a variety of sizes and species.
The Bumblebee Bat of Thailand weighs a third less than a penny and is the smallest mammal in the world. Cutest bat ever!
It’s also called Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat and they are found mostly in Thailand. The Bumblebee species is named after Kitti Thonglongya, a Thai zoologist who discovered them.
Look at some more facts here about the Bumblebee Bat.
However, a few other reasons why bats are not birds are because birds lay eggs and forage to care for their young. Also, bats have sharp teeth and birds do not have teeth but have beaks.
Bird and bats both fly and have strong skeletons which aids them to be strong flyers.
Blind As Bats – How Bats See
Too, you often hear people say blind as bats. Is this true? Bats are nocturnal animals. Nocturnal means being active at night rather than during the day. However, bats have excellent eyesight. Some bats hunt by using eyesight alone.
So bats are not blind. They can see better at night than humans, however echolocation is their most important sense when hunting. Bats use echolocation to find their prey.
When a bat is flying, it makes a series of high-pitched squeaks that humans can’t hear. They make squeaks, chirps, clicks, and buzzes through their mouths or noses. Since these sounds range from 25,000 to 70,000 vibrations a second, humans with an auditory range up to only about 30,000 vibrations can’t hear most of the sounds.
The sounds hit an object and bounce back to the bat, just like an echo. How do bats avoid collisions?
We don’t know exactly, but it’s possible that each animal has its individual sound pattern and is guided only by its own echoes.
Many bats have large ears or specialized ear shapes, which is thought to help with echolocation (location of objects by reflected sound).
How Bats Fly
Andrew Mercer (www.baldwhiteguy.co.nz)
While bats are exceedingly graceful in flight, when they fold their wings and walk they are extremely awkward creatures.
As bats skim over the surface of the water, they lap up water as they fly.
If you observe bats closely when they leave their roost at dusk, you can observe their wings. Bats’ wings beat much stronger and longer than those of birds.
Unlike birds, bats have a hard time taking off from the ground. They fly better by already being in the air.
The bodies of bats, excluding the wings, are covered with fur. While the fur of most mammals is smooth, bat fur consists of small tubes. It is the finest of all fur and in addition has the greatest numbers of hairs per square inch.
Since most bats fly at night and roost in dark places during the day, they have little need for protective coloration.
The majority of Chiroptera are dull colored, shades of black, brown, gray, and red predominantly.
The bat’s body structure, strong chest muscles, tapering abdomen, short neck and modified forearms is specially formed to support and operate the wings.
So, bats with long and narrow wings fly swiftly; those with large wingspreads are capable of long flights.
However, regardless of the shape of the wings, the design of the bones of the forearm is common to all bats. The four elongated fingers radiate and support the membrane a short thumb extends beyond the forward part of the wing and is like sharp hooked claw.
A claw also protrudes from the second finger of most fruit bats.
Where Do Bats Live – Bat Barracks
Bats live in all kinds of places: Caves, tall trees, barns, attics, and garages. They also roost, they do not build nests. However, the majority of bats roost in dark places. In warm regions, caves have curved corridors which prevents the penetration of light.
Also, while insect eating bats prefer dark retreats like caves, culverts and hollow trees, fruit bats in general do not.
A few bats have unusual homes. Certain African and Indian species share the burrow of the crested porcupine.
In addition, some bats migrate for the winter and some sleep during the winter months.
Also, look at these fun ideas and free lesson plans about caves at Homeschool on the Range.
Although most bats mate in the autumn, their young are not born until spring. The majority of bats have one baby at a time.
The only bat to have more than two consistently is the American red bat which can have a litter of four.
In spring, the females go off by themselves to have their young. When the baby is about to be born, the mother hangs on the ceiling of a cave or in some other sheltered placed.
She holds on by her thumbs and her back legs, making a basket to keep the newborn bat from falling. Baby bats are tiny pink creatures when they are born, with little or no hair.
They are almost two weeks old before their eyes open. The baby clings tightly to its mother for the first week or so. It uses its hooked milk teeth and little claws to cling to her breasts and fur.
Mothers take their baby along with her when they go hunting. Since bats are good fliers, this is no problem. When the baby bats get too heavy, the mother leaves it hanging by its back feet.
Baby Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus)
Attribution: Mickey Samuni-Blank
Why Do Bats Sleep Upside Down
Bats hang upside down because their knees only bend backwards, making it impossible for them to hang in other position.
However, there is a variation in the sleeping pattern of different species. Bats that sleep in the open fold their wings which are crisscrossed. On the other hand, cave-dwelling bats do not use their wings as sunshades.
Hands-on Bat Crafts and Treats
Next, nothing brings a unit study to life more than fun hands-on ways to learn about bats. Look at these hands-on bat activities and crafts.
- Make a coffee filter bat.
- Make a hanging bat craft for kids.
- Flying Bat STEM Activity for Preschoolers
- Adorable Bat Nature Craft
- Easy How to Draw a Bat Tutorial and Bat Coloring Page
- Handprint Bat Keepsake – Kid Craft Idea w/Free Printable Template
- Make a bat using wooden doll pins
- Look at these 10 Easy Bat Crafts like simple bottle top bats, hanging foam bat, edible truffle bats and sensory yarn craft to name a few.
Look at this fun printable bat template craft which helps with cutting skills.
Also, we made a coffee filter bat with just a few fun things we had on hand. We mostly followed the instructions at Woo Jr. You just need markers, a clothes pin, paint, and some markers along with scissors. So much fun.
Free Bat Printables
In addition, I’ve rounded up some free and fun bat printables for this bat unit study.
- Fun Bat Flipbook. Flipbook are such fun. They recreate an animal moving or in this case flying. Cut out the mini pages and staple and flip through the book. So fun!
- Fun itsy bitsy bat book for the littles
- Fun Bat dot to dot printable
- Bat themed coloring pages
- Bat life cycle worksheets
- Bat word search puzzle
- Printable Bat Counting Cards
- Night Friends Bats of the America – 32 page free download Activity Guide
- Download for free Frankie the Free-Tailed Bat book.
- Bats A Conservation Guide – 36 page free download
- Bats Misunderstood Creatures – 4 page free download
- More free bat printable templates and bats with rounded ears
About Bats on YouTube and Media
Books About Bats
Whether fiction or non-fiction, your kids will love some of these books about bats
MORE Bat Activities and Science Ideas
Here is another fun hands-on craft for kindergarten/first grade – bats hanging upside down in a cave. Instead of a cutting away part of a cup for the cave, we used a box. Such a fun way to pretend play.
- Look at this site Bat Week. Bat Week is an annual celebration of the role of bats in nature.
- Plant a Bat Garden
- Learn about bats in relation to the lunar cycle and study about moon phases. Look at this fun printable stackable moon phases. Also, make these fun Oreo moon phases.
- Learn about echolocation and play a game where you blindfold one child. You tap on something in the room or have another child and see if the blindfolded “bat” can locate the sound.
- Also, look at this mammals’ organ dissection kit for older kids if you want to focus on mammals
- Also, go to Smithsonian Institute for Bat Facts
- National Geographic Kids Bat Myths Busted
- Make blood. Although only three species consume blood, it’s fun to learn how they do it without their prey knowing. Compare human blood to animal blood. Are there any differences? Too, vampire bats only suck blood normally from other animals. This is fun hands-on activity for learning about human blood.
Also, look at these fun kits for some bat science, a fun nocturnal science box and fun fall science box.
Fall Weather Science Box – $34.95
from: Green Kid Crafts
Further, you’ll love these Montana Field Guides for various species:
Bat Predators and Prey
Bats have few predators compared to other mammals, but diseases are harmful. Owls are one predator because they hunt at night. However, snakes and hawks eat bats too.
The bat hawk (Machaeramphus alcinus) is one such hawk. Watch this YouTube video Predators of Bats. Bats have to look out for other raptors like red-tailed hawks and orange-breasted falcons.
Also, did you know there is a bat falcon? The bat falcon eats other rodents too, but also hunts bats.
However, nothing compares to the white-nose syndrome disease. The disease is named for a white fungus on the muzzle and wings of bats.
Around the world bats eat fruit, nectar, frogs, mice, fish, blood, and insects.
Bats as Pollinators
Bats provide many important things and one is spreading pollen. About 50 bat species feed just on nectar. Others are omnivores, feeding on fruit and insects as well as nectar.
So, when bats visit flowers for food they spread pollen. Bats are primary nighttime pollinators. Bats pollinate over 300 species of fruit like banana, mango, guava and tequila agave.
From the U.S. Forest site:
The flowers that are visited by bats are typically:
- Open at night;
- Large in size (1 to 3.5 inches);
- Pale or white in color;
- Very fragrant, a fermenting or fruit-like odor; and/or
- Copious dilute nectar.
All bats are carnivores.
False-A large group of bats, known as megachiroptera live on fruit and pollen. Most of the bats in the U.S. are insectivores.
Bats fly around your head and get tangled in you hair.
False-Bats may come in for a closer look but are far too smart to get tangled in your hair.
Vampire bats are huge bloodsucking bats that are all over the world.
False-Vampire bats are small bats that live only in South America. They don’t suck blood-they lick it up after making a cut with their teeth.
The world’s largest bats have a wingspan of nearly seven feet.
True-Flying foxes have a wingspan that can reach nearly seven feet.
Few More Bat Books
Furthermore, once you start looking, you’ll find a mix of fiction and non-fiction books about bats for all ages.
I used an older book I have, Wonders of the Bat World by Sigmund A. Lavine. to guide me for content for the lapbook. I love older books. Look at some more books below.
Batty About Art
Then, here is a fun and easy arts and craft project for the younger kids.
Next, no unit study is complete without a focus on some fun language arts.
Look at this poem, The Bat by Theodore Roethke.
By day the bat is cousin to the mouse.
He likes the attic of an aging house.
His fingers make a hat about his head.
His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead.
He loops in crazy figures half the night
Among the trees that face the corner light.
But when he brushes up against a screen,
We are afraid of what our eyes have seen:
For something is amiss or out of place
When mice with wings can wear a human face.
And then look at these questions to focus on the meaning:
- Why does he compare what the bat does during the day with the night? He possibly may be conveying the idea that the bat is misunderstood and is just a simple elegant creature or is the writer conveying that everyone has a side we never see?
- What are two metaphors in the poem? a) When mice with wings can wear a human face. We may view the bat as a dark creature, but the writer wants us to know that they can be like humans. b) By day the bat is cousin to the mouse. The writer compares the bat to the mouse to help us see bats through his eyes as something familiar and not dark like many tales about bats.
- Did you notice the writer alludes to both a bat’s sight and hearing which are of great interest to us?
Try a little Batty Math
From the site: Count the bats — how do your skills compare to a bat biologist’s?
World War II Project X-Ray and Bats
Project X is a plan conceived by the Unit States Army to use bats to destroy enemy installations during World War II. It may seem outlandish, but two million dollars was spent on perfecting the Project X plan.
Scientist and members of the armed forces captured thousands of bats in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns. Then a one-ounce bomb which produced a 22-inch flame and burned for eight minutes was harnessed to each bat.
The bats were put into crates with parachutes and loaded onto airplanes. The airplanes dropped the crates on testing sites and the parachutes opened at 1,000 feet automatically.
The bats then flew to a roost, often a cave or eaves of a building. Then they chewed off their harness and flew away, leaving the bombs behind which exploded. They destroyed many “town testing sites”.
Whether they actually used the bats or not is a military secret.
Bat Viewing Spots
A zoo is a great place to view bats both common and rare species. If you are on a lake or stream at dusk, watch bats as they as they skim over the surface of the water. You’ll notice them lap up water as they fly.
Bracken Cave here in Texas right outside of San Antonio is the summer home of more than 20 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats. It is a must visit. (Please note, the land is privately owned by Bat Conservation and you need to make arrangements to visit.).
Read more about Bracken Cave here on National Geographic.
Bats are amazing creatures! For many years, people thought bats were diseased, dirty and evil. In general, bats are very helpful creatures.
Farmers even set out bat houses so that bats will roost there and protect their crops from massive insects.
Despite superstition, bats are usually peaceful creatures. They are the only flying mammal with a unique miniaturized sonar system.
Your kids will love this fun lapbook. As I mentioned earlier, I know many activities exist for younger kids, so I gear my lapbooks toward older kids. This lapbook is aimed for upper elementary to middle school. However, because you get the same lapbook in two ways – one which has minibooks with facts filled in and the other one with blank minibooks, you can really use this lapbook for ANY age.
If you’re using it for high school, you can count the hours as part of a science credit and if you want to give a grade to the project itself, you decide.
Awesome Features of the Bat Lapbook:
- Aimed at upper elementary to middle school, but the lapbook with blank minibooks could be used for high school.
- This is a .pdf instant downloadable product and not a physical product.
- You are paying for the printables, the lapbook.
- My lapbooks are created for multiple ages.
- Most of the minibooks have facts which accompany the minibook and a lot of the minibook are offered two ways. One way where your child uses the facts provided and another way where your child can add his own research and not use the inside pages.
- You can use any reference materials, books, or online resources to complete the lapbook.
- I don’t provide links in the lapbooks for filling in the information. This keeps my prices low for my products, but I do try to provide free links on my site as I can.
- Because I have been a working homeschool mom for more of my journey than not, I need flexibility for using lapbooks. Proving a few facts from the main resource I use is one way I have of saving you time and giving you flexibility in how to use the minibooks.
- Too, some of your kids may be older and you want them to do more research and some of your kids may be reluctant writers so you may want to mix and match pre-filled minibooks with blank minibooks. Flexibility is the key to my lapbooks.
MY GUARANTEE: To treat you like I want to be treated which means I know at times technical problems may cause glitches, so I will do everything possible to make your experience here pleasant. I value your business and value you as a follower. I stand behind my products because they are actual products I use and benefit from too. Though I cannot refund purchases after you have been given access to them, I will do what I can to be sure you are a pleased customer. Read carefully what you get on your digital download.
More bat links you’ll love:
- Bat Conservation is dedicated to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet.
- Search the Bats Magazine archive at BatCon.
- Free Nocturnal Animals Lapbook
- Bats Live
You’ll love my other free unit studies below:
- Fascinating and Fun Honey Bees Unit Study and Lapbook for Kids
- Famous and Historic Trees Fun Nature and History Homeschool Unit Study
- History of the Texas Cowboy, Cattle Drives, and Chisholm Trail
- Above & Below: Pond Unit Study, Hands-on Ideas, & Lapbook.
- Super Seashore Watching Unit Study and Beach Lapbook.
- Foraging and Feasting Nature Unit Study and Lapbook.
- Wildflowers Unit Study & Lapbook.
- From Egg to Sea Turtle Nature Unit Study & Lapbook.