Mammals: Bats, Bats, and more Bats

Do you teach at a school that doesn't allow you to celebrate or do Halloween activities?  I taught at one of those schools.  It was so hard to skip the Halloween lessons when my students were so excited about the holiday.

I did find a way to follow the no-Halloween rule, yet still have some seasonal fun.  My answer was to study mammals and arachnids in October.  The mammal that I focused on was bats.  And you guessed it!  Spiders was the second focus for this month. My Bats, Bats, and more Bats packet and Spiders, Spiders, and more Spiders packet are a great way to enrich your language arts lessons if you are looking for some bats and spider lessons that are not Halloween themed. The bonus with these packets is these lessons can be taught at ANY TIME of the year but also can add some fun to your October lessons.

Through the years, I have been surprised when I received my standardized test results.  There were always one or two students that scored lower than expected.  I’ve also had surprises when grading work throughout the year.  Students who seemed very capable when discussing stories orally, were not showing the same potential on paper.  Rushing through their work and not paying attention to details seemed to be the cause of most of these surprises. Small words like “not” are important when answering questions.  I’ve tried a variety of things to slow these students down.  We circled important words of the sentence, rephrased question in the answer,  highlighted details, and a variety of other techniques with modest success.  One of the teams I was on used a phrase called “steal and slide”.  This catchy phrase seemed to work the best for my students. Probably because it is a sporty-themed phrase, boys and girls liked it and used it. 
Students are told they need to steal some of the words in the question to slide in the answer.  I used this technique with students as young as first grade.  With young students, we completed the questions together. I taped the question on chart tablet paper. Then I wrote the answers on chart tablet paper and then had volunteers circle the words that were stolen.  By the end of the year, my higher ability students were able to answer questions on paper using this method. This method makes students slow down and pay attention to every word in the question because they may want to steal that word for their answer. 

I realize this method is not unique.  Teachers have been telling their students to answer questions using words from the questions for a long time.  My teachers told me to do that when I was a student because I was one of those who saw school work as a race.  Your district may have you do the same type of activity but call it something else.  You should still be able to use the activities in this packet using whatever phrase your district uses.

Test prep lessons should be taught throughout the year. This helps with anxiety and ensures that these strategies have become a habit.  Both packets include test prep lessons for the following stories:
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  • Bats by Gail Gibbons
  • Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin
  • Spinning Spiders by Melvin Berger

Once your students understand the test prep strategies, you can set it up as a center.

Whether you have your students complete the reading comprehension assignments as a seat work assignment or as a center, it is important to go over the answers together.  This will enforce the strategies.

Bat-themed task cards are included.  The task cards are differentiated.  There are two sets of Batty about Contractions task cards.  Both sets include the same bat facts.  Students will add a contraction to complete the sentence, which is a bat fact. Set #1 includes two words that the student makes into a contraction.  Set #2 does not include the words.  Students will complete the sentence with a contraction.  Answers will vary with this set.  There are also different recording sheets.

Batty about Suffixes task cards includes two sets that are differentiated.  Both sets include the same bat facts. Set #1 -  students will add a suffix to the word to complete the sentence which is a bat fact. Set #2 does not include the words.  Students will complete the sentence with a word that includes a suffix.  Answers will vary with this set.  There are also different recording sheets.

This also includes the following interactive journal printables:
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon:  2 vocabulary assignments 
  • Stellaluna:  1 Venn diagram
  • Stellaluna:  3 pages dictionary skills 
  • Bats by Gail Gibbons: Super Sentences
  • Bats by Gail Gibbons: Bat Facts

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