When your toddlers and preschoolers just won't lay down and go to sleep, you may wonder if they are actually nocturnal. Nocturnal animals are those that are awake at night and asleep during the day, so your little ones may really connect with these nighttime creatures. Encourage this connection by providing your children with fun, hands-on activities related to creatures of the night.
Get batty with your little ones by teaching them about these nocturnal, flying mammals. Bats have giant ears that allow them to have excellent hearing. Make giant bat ears with your children by curling a sheet of construction paper into a cone, leaving the small end large enough to fit over a child-sized ear. Tape the cone into place, then create a second cone just like the first. Make a pair of giant bat ears for each of your children, then have fun hearing through these mega ears. You can also teach your children about echolocation by reading to them from a couple great children's books about bats, like, "Bat Loves the Night," by Nicola Davies and "The Magic School Bus Going Batty: A Book About Bats," by Nancy E. Krulik and Joanna Cole.
Your little children might get scared when they hear the "whoo, whoo" of an owl outside, but you can turn this fear around by teaching them how beautiful and special nocturnal owls are. If you live in an area with a lot of hickory trees, collect and split open a hickory nut. Each nut half will look just like a little barn owl head! Glue one of the nut halves on top of a pine cone to create a cute owl that can be used during pretend play or as a nocturnal creature display. You can also show your children how to make owl wings using construction paper. Owl feathers have frayed edges, which make the owl's wings completely silent. You can replicate this by cutting out a feather shape from construction paper, then flapping the feather to show your children what it sounds like. Next, cut strips along one of the long edges, and flap it again to demonstrate how the feather is now silent.
Raccoons may look like little bank robbers, but they are actually smart and hearty nocturnal animals that live in most deciduous forests. You may usually only talk about raccoons around your house after one has gotten into your trash can, but you can teach your child about the positive aspects of these masked creatures, too. For example, help each of your children paint a blank eye mask with black tempera paint, then wear the face masks as you read a few books to them about raccoons. Pick out books that talk about raccoons in a positive and lighthearted manner, such as, "A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon," by Audrey Penn, "Raccoons on the Roof," by Ben M. Baglio and J. Gregory or "Raccoon Moon," by Nancy Carol Willis.
When you and your children see your cat sleeping on the couch all day, it's easy to think that she must be a lazy bones. Actually, Fluffy is just a nocturnal animal that spends most of her awake time prowling around the house at night. After an exhausting night of play and hunting, your kitty cat is ready to go to sleep just as your little one is getting up. You and your little ones can pretend to be sleepy nocturnal cats by piling a bunch of pillows and blankets on the floor, then curling up on the pillow pile to take a nap. As you and your children snuggle into the pile, meow like little kittens. You could even try talking to each other like kittens and cats throughout the day to communicate. Or, make a pair of cat ears for each of your children. Have your kids cut out two 4-inch triangles each from construction paper using child-safe scissors, then glue or tape the triangles onto a plastic or cloth headband. For a more realistic approach, have your kids cut the triangles out of fuzzy or hairy fabric. You can also talk about how your cat's eyes help it to see better in low light, perfect for hunting at night.
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