Bats Are Part of a Word Family

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Students will be able to add or substitute individual sounds in simple, one-syllable words to make new words.

Big Idea

I can change the first letter of a word to make a new word.


15 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell them, “Today we are going to start learning about animals that live in the Maryland forest. We are going to watch a short video clip about an animal which many people are afraid of. Yet without this valuable animal the insect population would begin to take over and we would be overrun with mosquitoes. Does anyone think they know which MD forest animal I am talking about?”

I very seldom have any students who can reply to this question as many students do not think of the bat as an advantageous animal but mostly they think more along the lines of vampire bat.

“The animal we are going to see in this video clip is the bat. Can anyone share with me a fact they know about bats?”

I open a screen on the SMARTBoard and record some of the facts the students share with me.

Inevitably someone says, “Vampire bats drink your blood.”

“We are going to look at a book about bats after the video and I think you will find out some new information about the vampire bat.”     

“Okay now that we have a few facts let’s take a look at this video clip and see what you think.”

This video about bats can be found on the website Watch Know Learn

After the video clip I have the students stand up, do some yoga stretches and sit back down ready for the focus lesson of the day.

I have the students watch this video to develop an interest in the topic of the lesson. Once the students are interested in the topic then it becomes easier for me as the teacher to engage them in the lesson activity.   


40 minutes

“The book for today is called Bats. The book is written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons. This book is a general non-fiction book. If the book is non-fiction what does that tell us about this book?”

“Yes Adam we are probably going to learn some facts about the bat.”

“What kind of facts do you think we will learn?”

I take a couple of responses to this question, and then ask, “Well does anyone have an idea about what they would want to learn about bats?”

I note down the students responses under the W part of the KWL chart previously created.

“Looking at your list of questions I see that Owen really wants to learn whether a vampire bat really does drink people’s blood. Rachel wants to know how they fly. Louise wants to know if they really only come out at night. Ava wants to know how they see at night, Paul wants to know why they have big ears and Timothy wants to know if they noses. All of those are interesting questions.”

“Well now it is time to read our book and see if we can answer some of those questions.”  


During reading I discuss any new vocabulary words we may come across. Words like, nocturnal, mammals, characteristics, membrane, hibernate, echolocation, etc. We review words like, migrate, pollinate, pollution, etc. 

I also point out the fact that I can get information by looking at pictures which have labels. The picture or diagrams labels will often point to part of the animal or part of the habitat and then provide me with information about the topic. For example, on the page where there is the picture of the bat with its wings open, I point out the labels for the various parts of the wing such as fingers, membrane, thumb, claw, etc. “From this page the labels informed me that a bat has fingers, a thumb and an arm bone just like I have.”  

Discussing finger usage to accomplish a task

Discussing echolocation 


“Now that the story is over I am going to ask you to use your fingers individually to tap out the sounds which make the word bat. Ready? B-a-t. What word did we make?”

“Right we made the word bat. Now what would happen if I took away the /b/ sound and replaced it with /c/?”

“Great. We made the word cat. C-a-t, cat. Well done. Now how about if I took away the /c/ sound and replaced it with /f/?”

“Fabulous. We get the word fat. F-a-t, fat.”

“Well today during integrated work station time you are going to try making different –at word family words using bat wings. You will select a bat wing with a letter on it, place it by the bat body, tap out your sounds and see what word you have made.”

“Once you have figured out the word you have made, record the word on your recording sheet.”  -at Word Family Recording Sheet

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some –at word fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.  


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me one –at word. “You will need to tell me your at word, but here is the deal…once an –at word has been used it is off the menu. I will let you know it is okay to give me a nonsense word when we have used up all the other –at words.”

“Now I want you to think of two or three –at words in your brain in case someone uses the one you planned on using. I will give you a few seconds to come up with some –at words to store in your brain.”

After a few seconds I say, “Okay everyone should have a few –at words ready to go. I am going to use the fair sticks to help me pick the students. Here we go.”

Once a student has told me his/her –at word they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on an –at word together. 


5 minutes

Call each student over during a time which fits into your classroom schedule. I call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).

The directions will differ according to my students’ abilities. For example, for middle performing students I will I present the student with the recording sheet and tell him/her, “I would like you to use this piece of paper to record as many real –at word family words as you can. Here is a pencil, begin.” I will let him/her write until he/she appears to run out of ideas. -at Word Family Assessment

For my higher performing students I will repeat the above directions but they will be timed. They will have two minutes to write as many- at word family words as they can.

For my lower performing students it will be verbal. They will tell the word and I will act as their scribe and record their answers.

Once the assessment is completed I will place a copy of the results in the student’s working portfolio. 


Have the children watch Soar with Bats: Night Fliers of the Sky, by Scholastic.


Use letter tiles as a different medium for students to manipulate and make –at words. Copy the base mat from Making Learning Fun and then supply the tiles for students to work with. 


Allow students to work on rhyming at words using the sorting mat and picture cards from the Making Learning Fun website.


Have the students make a paper tube bat and hang it around the classroom to create a “batty” atmosphere. We use this craft with brown construction paper because we learn about the Maryland Brown bat. Check to see which bat is the most prevalent in your state.