Bats may be the first nocturnal creatures that come to mind, but actually there are lots more. Learn about some of the real creatures that sleep all day and wake up at night (links take you to informational websites):
Online resources about nocturnal animals in general:
- Night Creatures of the Kalahari from PBS explores night vision and how zoologists study nocturnal animals.
- An attractive nocturnal animals worksheet to download and print.
- Nocturnal Animals Thinkquest
- Nancy Stewart’s song, Nocturnal Animals
Here are some basic lessons we like for nocturnal animals:
- The opposite of nocturnal is diurnal: awake in the daytime, like humans. Divide the class into two teams and have each team use online resources or books to identify as many of each type of animal as they can, writing the names of the animals in lists on chart paper or marker boards. The winner is the team that correctly classifies the largest number of species.
- Many common house pets and neighborhood animals are nocturnal. Ask students to observe animals they see in their everyday life and decide which ones are nocturnal. Ask students to present evidence to support their claims.
- Use the idea of nocturnal animals to study adaptations. Ask students what would be useful to animals who wake up at night and sleep all day. We think of different eyes that can see well in the dark, maybe warm fur if they live in a place where it’s colder at night, and a sleeping habit that lets them sleep while other creatures are up and around. Then ask what situations could make it useful for an animals to wake up at night and sleep in the daytime. Maybe a very hot daytime climate or the ability to prey on creatures that sleep at night come to mind. Discuss how animals who live in a particular habitat and circumstances adapt to those circumstances.
- Humans are diurnal animals, but sometimes we have to work at night and sleep during the day. Have students interview night workers, or invite a night worker to your class. As a class, discuss what you know and would like to know about night workers and come up with good questions as a starting point, and then create a bulletin board showing what you learn from the interviews.
- Once you’ve studied some nocturnal animals, consider learning about some fictional creatures of the night such as werewolves and vampires. Consider why the folklore of these creatures makes them nocturnal, and why the ficitonal versions have or have not kept that characteristic.
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