Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Helping our Native Pollinators

What is Pollination?
Pollination is the process where plants receive pollen from other plants of the same species so they can reproduce and form seeds. Many plants are pollinated by animals, and most of the animal pollinators are insects. The relationship between plants and their insect pollinators is beneficial to both the plant and the pollinator. The insect pollinator receives food, usually in the form of nectar, while it spreads pollen from plant to plant aiding the plants reproduction. Pollination is really just a “happy accident” that happens when an insect visits a flower to get food. The insects do not know they are pollinating plants as they are finding food for themselves.

Insects have been pollinating plants for approximately 140 million years, since the dawn of angiosperms (flowering plants). Flowering plants lure pollinators to them with scent, visual cues, and food. Learn more about the process of pollination: The Plant Pollination Process: http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/plant-pollination-process.html

Why We Need Pollinators
More than one-third of our food supply depends on pollinators. Without pollinators there would be no apples, onions, oranges, pumpkins, and many other fruit and vegetables. There would be no coffee, chocolate, nuts, or cotton for our clothes. Without pollinators our world would be a much different place than it is right now.

Produce Section With And Without Bees

List of crop plants pollinated by bees

Why you should be more worried about pollination than a bee sting

Flower Dissection
Gather flowers from your yard or visit a local flower shop and get flowers to dissect. Cut the flowers in half. Identify the different parts and talk about what they are and how pollination works. Ask children if they have seen bees or butterflies on flowers? Why do they think they were on the flowers?

Pollination Crafts
Create tissue paper flowers. Have children draw pictures of pollinators to glue to their flowers.

Pollination Field Trip
Visit a local apple orchard, garden, or even walk around your schoolyard this spring and observe how many pollinators you can find. Make a chart to keep track of different kinds (bee, butterfly, moth, beetle, etc).

Gardening for Pollinators
Plan and plant a school garden for pollinators. Already have a school garden? Add plants for pollinators or devote a section to pollinators. Even growing a few pollinator-friendly plants in containers can be beneficial!

Blank Park Zoo: Plant. Grow. Fly.
Become part of a new conservation initiative to help protect native pollinators! Whether you have several acres, a small back yard, a schoolyard, or even a business courtyard – you can make a difference! Plant seeds, watch them grow, and help our native pollinators thrive!

Other things you can do to support pollinators:
·         Avoid or limit pesticide use at home and never use a neonicotinoid pesticide
·         Buy organic produce
·         Provide nesting sites, such as bee nesting blocks

Helpful Links
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation – Looking out for Iowa: Native Pollinators

Native Pollinators: The Amazing World of Native Pollinators

Native Bee Conservancy: Saving Our Wild Pollinators

Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees

Bug Guide: Native Bees of North America

Animal Pollination
USDA Forest Service: Gardening for Pollinators

Planting a Pollinator Garden

The Xerces Society: Pollinator Gardens

Garden for Wildlife

White House Gets “First-Ever” Pollinator Garden, Milkweed Planted at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Book List
Educator Reference
Barth, F. G., and M. A. Biedermann-Thorson. 1991. Insects and Flowers: The Biology of a Partnership. Princeton University Press.
The Xerces Society . 2011. Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat. Storey Books.

Children’s Books
Galvin, L.G., and K. Kest. 2000. Bumblebee at Apple Tree Lane. Soundprints.
Heiligman, D., and B. Weissman. 1996. From Caterpillar to Butterfly. HarperCollins Publishers.
Hoff, M. K. 2004. Pollination. The Creative Company.
Lawrence, E. 2012. What Lily Gets from Bee: And Other Pollination Facts. Bearport Publishing Company, Inc.
Schaefer, L. M., and A. Richardson. 2001. Butterflies: Pollinators and Nectar-Sippers. Capstone Press.
Slade, S., and C. Schwartz. 2010. What If There Were No Bees? Capstone Press.
Lauber, P., and J. Wexler. 1986. From Flower to Flower: Animals and Pollination. Random House Children’s Books.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014


 Ethan H. 
Category I (Grades K-2) 
1st Place (Tie)

Emma F. 
Category I (Grades K-2) 
1st Place (Tie)

Iowa Kids “Take It Outside” with IDNR Art Contest

To view all of the winning posters visit the IDNR Education Competitions:

Over 1800 Iowa students, ranging from Kindergarten to grade 12, participated in this year’s Iowa Department of Natural Resources “Take It Outside” Art Contest. Entries showcased children enjoying their favorite natural places in Iowa – from prairies and forests to lakes and streams.

This year art contest participants were asked to portray their favorite natural place to “take it outside”. They were asked to show what makes the place special to them. From hiking, fishing, hunting, reading under a tree to bird watching, lying in the grass, and climbing trees – this year’s participants showed us the wonderful ways they like to enjoy Iowa’s natural resources!

Iowa is abundant with wonderful natural resources and natural areas are found throughout the state. Natural places can be public, such as state parks and recreations areas, or private, such as farms and backyards. Regardless of size or location, natural places connect us to the outdoors and enrich our lives.

Schools were asked to submit posters in the following categories: Kindergarten-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12. All categories were for original hand-drawn artwork. Winners were selected based on portrayal of theme, creative expression, originality, visual appeal, and artistic merit. 

Individual winners (by category):
Category I: Grades K-2
1st Place – Emma F., Homeschool
1st Place – Ethan H., Homeschool
Best Use of Color – Krystal W., Benton Community Schools

Category II: Grades 3-5
1st Place – Nathan P., Mid-Prairie HSAP
Best Use of Theme – Rebecca U., Pleasant Valley Schools
Most Creative – Molly S., South Tama Schools
Best Use of Color – Amelia J., Des Moines Catholic Diocese

Category III: Grades 6-8
1st Place – Carmen A., Benton Community Schools
Most Creative – Tyler P., Ames Schools
Best Use of Color – Emily P., Southeast Polk Community Schools

Category IV: Grades 9-12
1st Place – Gabby R., West Marshall Schools
Best Use of Theme – Tessa M., North Polk Schools

Individual artists who placed first in each category received a prize package of exploration and/or outdoor recreation supplies. Every participant received a certificate from the IDNR. Winning entries will be displayed during the Iowa State Fair at the DNR building.

Grant for natural resources-based recreation experience
Each school that submitted art contest entries was entered in a drawing to receive a grant (total of 4 grants awarded) for a fishing field experience at a local outdoor recreation area.

Thank you again for all of the entries!    We enjoyed the opportunity to view all of the wonderful artwork and creativity of the students!

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Hafner, DNR, at (641) 747-2200 or shannon.hafner@dnr.iowa.gov



Friday, March 21, 2014

Iowa Fish
What is a fish? Fish are animals that live their lives in water. Fish are cold-blooded, which does not mean that their blood is cold but rather that their body temperature changes with the temperature of the water around them. Fish are also vertebrates - they have a backbone and an internal skeleton made of cartilage or bone. 

Since fish are animals they must breathe oxygen just like other animals - but how do they breathe oxygen under water? With their gills! Gills make it possible for fish to breathe oxygen under water by absorbing the dissolved oxygen in water.

Fish also have fins and scales. Fins are how fish move around in the water. Different fish have different fin shapes and sizes. Scales cover fish and protect them. Most fish have scales but some, like catfish, are covered with tough skin.

There are 148 species of fish in Iowa.

Creature Feature – Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)

Green sunfish are small sunfish growing no more than 7 inches in length. They have a heavy body that is blue-green on the sides and back with a yellow or white belly. The sides of green sunfish head’s are spotted with emerald and yellow streaks. The flap on the gill cover is edged with white or yellow. They have a large mouth with the upper jaw reaching to about the middle of their eye. Green sunfish usually have whitish or yellow-orange leading edges on their fins.

Green sunfish live in streams, lakes, wetlands, and ponds throughout Iowa. They are often found in water bodies that have lower water quality where other sunfish cannot survive. Green sunfish eat insects, fish, worms, and crayfish.

Green sunfish spawn, or mate, in June. The male constructs the nest. After the female lays the eggs the male will stay with them until they hatch in 3 to 6 days.

Fishing Fun!
Use Growing Up WILD’s “Fishing Fun!” to explore fishing with young children! By engaging in dramatic play children will learn about fish and the basics of fishing. Using stick poles children fish for paper fish.

Growing Up WILD: Fish Information Sheet

More Ideas!
Set up a small aquarium in your classroom so children can watch how fish move and breathe.

After exploring fish and fishing with “Fishing Fun!” plan a fishing fun day for your students. Utilize parent helpers, community help, and contact your local County Conservation Board Naturalist for supplies, locations, and assistance.

OR plan a trip to a local aquarium or pet shop to observe different species of fish.

Fish for your snack! Use pretzel sticks for “poles” and dip for “bait” and “fish” for fish-shaped crackers. Dip pretzel sticks in dip and use the dip on the end to pick up fish crackers. How many fish can you catch with one “cast”?

Books List
Amdahl, P. 2000. The Barefoot Fisherman: A Fishing Book for Kids. Clearwater Publishing.
Arnosky, J. 1993. Crinkleroot's Twenty-five Fish Every Child Should Know. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
Bryan, J. et al. 2007. Take Me Fishing: 50 Great Writers on Their Favorite Sport. Skyhorse Publishing.
Burger, C. 1960. All About Fish. Random House.
Cook, B. 2005. The Little Fish that Got Away. HarperCollins.
Gallimard, J. 1998. Fish. Scholastic.
Heinrichs, A.R. 2003. Fish. Coughlan Publishing.
Klein, A. G. 2008. Fishing. ABDO Publishing Company.
Long, E. 1987. Gone Fishing. Houghton Mifflin.
Parker, S. 2005. Fish. DK Publishing, Inc.
Pastel, J., K. Fitzsimmons and L. VanDeWeghe. Bur Bur's Fishing Adventure: An Exciting Fishing Adventure. IGI Press.
Pfeffer, W. 1996. What's it Like to be a Fish? (Let's Read-and-Find-Out Science 1). Harper Trophy.
Prosek, J. 2004. A Good Day’s Fishing. Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing.
Quigley, M. 2007. Granddad’s Fishing Buddy. Dial.
Schaefer, L.M. 2001. What Is a Fish?. Coughlan Publishing.
Sill, C. 2005. About Fish: A Guide for Children. Peachtree Publishers.
Wells, E. 2006. Wishing I was Fishing. Beaver’s Pond Press.

Links
IDNR: Fishes of Iowa

IDNR: Taking Kids Fishing

For factsheets, activity sheets and MORE visit:
IDNR: Education – Classroom Resources (go to the Document Library at the bottom of the page for fact sheets and activity sheets!)


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Iowa Invertebrates
More than 97% of the animal species on Earth are invertebrates. Invertebrates are small animals that do not have backbones. There are many types of invertebrates, from fluid-filled jellyfish, and squishy earthworms to hard shelled insects like beetles, and eight-legged arachnids. This fascinating and diverse group of animals spans the globe – invertebrates live on every continent and in every body of water!

BrainPOP: Invertebrates

Science for Kids: Invertebrates Poem


Creature Feature – Dragonflies & Damselflies

There are 450 species of dragonflies and damselflies in North America and about 110 of those call Iowa their home. Dragonflies and damselflies are similar to one another but can be distinguished from each other by their size and by how they hold their wings at rest. Dragonflies are larger and hold their wings out horizontally from their body. Damselflies are smaller and hold their wings together above their body. Collectively they are in the insect order Odonata.

Dragonfly species have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. These giant prehistoric dragonflies had wingspans over two feet wide!

Dragonflies and damselflies usually live near bodies of water. The presence of dragonflies and damselflies in aquatic ecosystems is a good indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

Adult dragonflies feed on other, smaller insects, catching them mid-flight.

Dragonflies and damselflies lay their eggs in the water or on vegetation near or above the water. The young are fully aquatic and are called nymphs. Nymphs are voracious predators and eat other aquatic organisms, including other juvenile insects, and even small fish. The nymphs will grow and molt several times before their final molt when they will become a flying adult.

Iowa Odonata Survey

Odes for Beginners

Dragonfly Activities
Show children pictures of dragonflies and damselflies and ask them if they have ever seen these insects. What do they know about them? What would they like to know? Make a chart of their responses.  Read books about dragonflies and damselflies.  Discover the answers to their questions together. Using craft supplies build dragonflies or dragonflies. Some good supplies to have would be pipe cleaners, tissue paper, googly eyes, etc. Hang their creations from the ceiling over you reading or science center.

Cut lily pad shapes out of cardboard or other durable material. Paint green. Place them on the floor approximately 12 inches apart. Have the children pretend they are dragonflies or damselflies and flit from lily pad to lily pad. Ask the children to hop, jump, skip etc…

Check with your local County Conservation Board for assistance from a Naturalist and plan dragonfly/damselfly walk to a local body of water. Observe any dragonflies or damselflies you see. Using nets and containers check the water for dragonfly nymphs. 

Dragonfly Learning Activities for Preschool

Book List
Allen, J., and T. Humphries. 2004. Are You a Dragonfly? Kingfisher.
Amery, H. and T. Gibbons. 1997. Dragonflies. Gareth Stevens Publishing.
Bernhard, E., and D. Bernhard. 1993. Dragonfly. Holiday House, Inc.
Glaser, L. 2008. Dazzling Dragonflies: A Life Cycle Story. Lerner Publishing Group.
Johnson, J. 2013. What’s it like to be a DRAGONFLY? Riverstream Publishing, Inc.
Kavanagh, J. 2009. Dragonflies and Damselflies. Waterford Press Ltd.
Nikula, B., et al. 2002. Stokes Beginner’s Guide to Dragonflies. Little, Brown and Company.
Pringle, L., and B. Marshall. 2001. A Dragon in the Sky: The Story of a Green Darner Dragonfly. Scholastic, Inc.
Rice, R. H., and G. Torrisi. 1996. Dragonflies. Owen, Richard C. Publishers, Inc.
Rinehart, S. C., and A. C. Hovemann. 2004. Eliza and the Dragonfly. Dawn Publications.
Rosman, S. S., and G. Carmi. 1992. Deena the Damselfly. URJ Press.
Sexton, C. 2008. Damselflies. Scholastic Library Publishing.

For factsheets, activity sheets and MORE visit:
IDNR: Education – Classroom Resources (go to the Document Library at the bottom of the page for fact sheets and activity sheets!)


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Iowa Amphibians and Reptiles

There are a wide variety and number of amphibians and reptiles that make Iowa their home. People are often surprised to learn of the variety of amphibians and reptiles we have in Iowa. Many of these animals are secretive and come out only at night and may not be easily observable. “Herps” is the names given to the large group of amphibians and reptiles and the study of them is called herpetology. Below we take a closer look at one of Iowa’s smallest amphibians – the spring peeper frog!

Creature Feature – Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

The spring peeper is one of the smallest frog species in Iowa – they are less than one inch to 1 ½ inches in length. They are yellow, brown, gray, or olive with a pinkish cast. Like many other frog species, their shade of color is affected by the temperature. Their bellies are creamy white. They have a dark, irregular “X”-shaped mark on their back and a dark mark between their eyes. Their legs have bars on them. Spring peepers also have tiny toepads on the tip of each toe.

Spring Peepers live in moist woodlands and prairie wetlands or small ponds adjacent to woodlands. They are not found in open areas or large bodies of water. They live in trees or on herbaceous plants.

Spring peepers become active in early spring, not long after the ice melts off of wetlands. They are considered one of the “harbingers of spring” in Iowa as their calls are a sure sign spring has arrived! The males make a distinctive ascending “peep! peep! peep!” that can sound like a chick’s peep. A large chorus of male spring peepers can be quite loud and heard from some distance.

Eggs are in laid from early March to early June in small clusters of several hundred on submerged objects and vegetation. The tadpoles will hatch in several days and will complete their transformation into froglets from May and late June.

Spring peepers eat small invertebrates such as spiders, and insects. They hunt for their food in low vegetation. They are usually active at night.

Spring peepers hibernate during the winter. They hibernate on land. Other than their organs, which have converted glucose flowing through them to prevent ice crystals from forming, their bodies freeze during hibernation.

Iowa HerpNet: Spring Peeper



Grow As We Go
Use Growing Up WILD’s “Grow As We Go” to explore the life cycle of frogs. Use the life cycle cards in the back of the book or share photographs of the frog life cycle from books or the internet. Discuss frogs as a class: Ask children if they have ever seen a frog? A tadpole? How does a tadpole change to become a frog? Explore these questions as a class. If possible obtain tadpoles in the spring and observe them as they grow and change (be sure to follow your state and local regulations on possession of wildlife).

Frog Life Cycle

Frogs Are Amphibians

Frog Activities

Book List
Arnosky, J. 2002. All About Frogs. Scholastic, Inc.
Beltz, E. 2009. Frogs: Inside Their Remarkable World. Firefly Books, Limited.
Elliot, L. 2002. The Calls of Frogs and Toads: Breeding Calls and Sounds of 42 Different Species. Stackpole Books.
Hawes, J. 1975. Spring Peepers. HarperCollins Publishers.
Lionni, L. 1998. An Extraordinary Egg. Dragonfly Books.
Lionni, L. 1974. Fish is Fish. Knopf Books for Young Readers.
Marent, T., and T. Jackson. 2010. Frog: A Photographic Portrait. DK Publishing, Inc.
Moignot, D. 1998. Frogs: A First Discovery Book. Moonlight Publishing.
Naden, C.J. 1972. Let's Find Out About Frogs. Scholastic Library Publishing.
Oxford Scientific Films. 1979. Common Frog. Putnam Pub Group.
Schaefer, L.M. 2001. What is an Amphibian?. Coughlan Publishing.
Stewart, M., and H. Bond. 2010. A Place for Frogs. Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.

For factsheets, activity sheets and MORE visit:
IDNR: Education – Classroom Resources (go to the Document Library at the bottom of the page for fact sheets and activity sheets!)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Iowa Birds
Iowa is home to an impressive number of bird species - from seasonal migrants to species that make Iowa their home year round. Bird watching is a wonderful hobby enjoyed by many Iowans young and old! Birds are interesting and abundant making them wonderful wildlife to observe and study with children.

But what makes a bird a bird? An animal is classified as birds if it has: feathers, wings, a beak with no teeth, it lays hard-shelled eggs, and has lightweight (often hollow) bones.  Birds’ feathers make them instantly recognizable as “birds” to even the youngest of bird watchers and are also the feature that makes each species so identifiable.

Creature Feature – Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia)
Yellow warblers are common throughout Iowa during the summer. Although there are more than 50 species of warblers in North America, yellow warblers are easily identifiable by their uniform bright yellow bodies and unmarked heads with black eyes. Males are distinguished from females by the reddish streaks on their chest and bellies.

Yellow warblers are small, averaging 4 ½ inches in length. Yellow warblers have a distinctive song that sounds like they are saying “sweet sweet I’m so sweet”. They are one of the most commonly heard warblers in Iowa during spring and summer.

Yellow warblers arrive in Iowa in early to mid-May. They can be found in shrubby thickets and woods, particularly along waterways and near wetlands. Yellow warblers are neotropical migrants, meaning they spend their winters in the tropics of Central and South America and their summers in the temperate regions of North America. They start their southward winter journey as early as July.

Yellow warblers eat mostly insects and spiders.

Yellow warblers build their small, cup-like nests in low shrubby trees. The female lays 3-5 grayish to bluish white eggs with brown markings. She will incubate the eggs for 10-13 days. The male will bring her food while she incubates the eggs. When the young hatch both the male and female will feed the young. The young will be ready to leave the nest at 8-10 days old. The parents continue to feed them for up to 3 weeks after they leave the nest.

Bird Watching with Children
Birds are everywhere! Their abundance is part of what makes them so fun to observe! Birds are found in every habitat in Iowa so even if your school is in an urban area you should be able to observe birds in your schoolyard (think robins, crows, etc…). Take children on a walk around your schoolyard or local park to observe birds. Ask them if they have ever seen birds at school before? In their own yards? Somewhere else? What was the birds doing? Why do they think it was doing that?

Tips for Bird Watching with Young Children
  • Keep it short – young children have short attention spans, keep the walk short or go on several shorter bird watching trips
  • Take it slow – let the children be the lead, walk slow, look & listen
  • Bring a field guide – children will enjoy looking through the book, and you can look up any birds you see (even if you already know what it is)
  • Look for bird evidence – droppings, tracks, old nests, etc…
  • Bring binoculars – bring a pair of real binoculars to share, and make toilet paper roll “binoculars” before your walk http://familycrafts.about.com/cs/toystomake/a/blbinocr.htm
  • Bring paper and pencil – takes notes on observations, questions, etc…
  • Reflection time after your walk – encourage children to share their observations and experiences from their walk


Build a Bird Nest
Ask children if they have ever seen a bird nest? What did it look like? Look at pictures of bird nests together. Discuss bird nests. What do birds make their nests out of? Why do they think? What do birds use their nests for?

Take the children to an outdoor area that has access to nest building material (or have materials with you that you have previously gathered), such as small twigs/sticks, string, small feathers, grass (both dried and green), etc…

Have each child build their own nest using the materials available or ones they can gather outside (as always keep safety in mind – check the area beforehand to check for broken glass or other hazards).  Have each child share their nest when they are done.

Book List
Arnosky, J. 1997. Bird Watcher. Random House Children's Books.
Arnosky, J. 1993. Crinkleroot's 25 Birds Every Child Should Know. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
Arnosky, J. 1992. Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Birds. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
Bailey, D. 1992. Birds: How to Watch and Understand the Fascinating World of Birds. DK Publishing, Inc.
Boring, M. and L. Garrow. 1998. Bird, Nests, and Eggs. National Book Network.
Bushnell, J. 1996. Sky Dancer. HarperCollins Publishers.
Collard, S.B. 2002. Beaks! Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
Garelick, M. 1995. What Makes a Bird a Bird? Mondo Publishing.
Herkert, B. 2001. Birds in Your Backyard. Dawn Publications.
Latimer, J. et al. 1999. Backyard Birds (Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Oppenheim, J.F. and B. Reid. 1987. Have You Seen Birds?. Scholastic, Inc.
Rabe, T. and A. Ruiz. 1998. Fine Feathered Friends: All About Birds (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library). Random House Children's Books.
Rockwell, A.F. 1992. Our Yard Is Full of Birds. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
Sill, C.P. 1997. About Birds: A Guide for Children. Peachtree Publishers.
Weidensaul, S. and T. Taylor. 1998. Birds (Audubon Society First Field Guide Series). Scholastic, Inc.
Zim, H.S. 1989. Birds. St. Martin's Press.

Links
IDNR: Education – Classroom Resources (go to the Document Library at the bottom of the page for fact sheets and activity sheets!)

All About Birds: Yellow Warbler

Build Your Own Bird Nest




Monday, March 17, 2014

Iowa Mammals
Mammals are warm-blooded, have a back-bone, are hairy, and have mammary glands that produce milk to feed their young. Mammals live on all continents and in all oceans.  Iowa has 40 species of mammals that are considered common in the state. Iowa’s mammals live in woodlands, prairies, waterways, farm fields, and towns. They are adapted to a wide variety of habitats.

Creature Feature – Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)
All bats are members of the Order Chiroptera - which is the second largest mammalian order in the world.  The little brown bat is one of Iowa’s most common bats. They roost in caves, mines, buildings. They prefer buildings close to wooded areas. Many little brown bats migrate further south before hibernating for the winter.  Some also hibernate in eastern Iowa in deep caves or mines that remain above freezing. 

Little brown bats average 3 – 3 ¾ inches in length including their tail. They have shiny brown fur on their body and dark brown wings and ears.  Each wing is attached along the side of the foot. They have medium-sized ears with round tragus (membranous projection). Young bats are born from May to July. They can fly at one month of age. Bats are long-lived animals despite their small size. Little brown bats can live up to 20 years although on average they live approximately 11 years in the wild.

Little brown bats, like all Iowa bat species, are insect eaters. They are often seen in yards as they forage for food. Bats are very beneficial - a single a bat can eat as many as 3,000 mosquitoes in a single night! Little brown bats prefer moths, caddisflies, and beetle larvae - although they do eat their fair share of mosquitoes too! Bats are nocturnal and emerge from their roosts each night at dusk to eat.

Like most bats, little brown bats use echolocation to navigate in the dark and to locate food. Bats produce high-frequency sound waves using their nose or mouth.  When the sound hits an object an echo bounces back to the bat's large funnel-shaped ears.   The bat can instantly identify an object by the sound of the echo. Bats can even tell the size, shape and texture of even a tiny insect from the echo.  Although bats rely on echolocation they are not blind as is commonly believed.

Bat Book Project
Bats are often thought of negatively. As a class or in smaller groups have the students write and illustrate a book that will change people's feelings about this animal.

As part of this project discuss children’s feelings and thoughts about bats. Make a chart with before and after feelings about bats. Ask children if they have ever seen a bat? What did they think? What do they think after learning more about bats and reading about bats? How can they help other people feel good about bats?

Make a “Bat Cave”
Using blankets, chairs and desks, make a "bat cave” (blanket fort).  Read bat stories in your new classroom “bat cave”. Choose from the list below!

Book List
Cannon, J. 1993. Stellaluna. Harcourt Children's Books.
Carney, E. 2010. National Geographic Readers: Bats. National Geographic Children’s Books.
Davies, N., and S. Fox-Davies. 2004. Bat Loves the Night. Candlewick Press.
Earle, A., and H. Cole. 1995. Zipping, Zapping, Zooming Bats. HarperCollins Publishers.
Gibbons, G. 2000. Bats. Holiday House, Inc.
Levigne, H., and B. Kalman. 1998. What is a Bat? Crabtree Publishing Company.
Milton, J., and J. Moffatt. Bats: Creatures of the Night. Penguin Group (USA).
Pifer, P. 2006. Boo, the Little Brown Bat. Purpose Life Publishing.
Pringle, L., and M. Henderson. 2000. Bats!: Strange and Wonderful. Boyds Mills Press.

Links
IDNR: Education – Classroom Resources (go to the Document Library at the bottom of the page for fact sheets and activity sheets!)

Iowa Wildlife Series – Iowa Mammals

Birds of Iowa: Bats of Iowa – Little Brown Bat

Bat Conservation International