Bats are Mammals, Not Birds!

2 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT describe the basic needs and features of bats.

Big Idea

Some people think bats are birds...they are actually mammals!


The Essential Standards that this lesson align to are 1.L.1.1, "Recognize that animals need air, water, space, food and shelter, and that these may be found in their environment" and standard 1.L.2.2, "Summarize the basic needs of a variety of different animals (including air, water, and food) for energy and growth. Naturally, teaching about basic needs will also include a conversation about their habitat because their habitat must provide for their basic needs.

For each lesson, I post both the lesson objective from the Essential Standards and a guiding question. Click here to find out why I teach the Essential Standards for science. This is to help students to understand the purpose behind the lesson and to connect to prior knowledge. I have found it helpful because it also keeps my focus on the objectives for the day. When I first introduce the day's activities to the students, I will write at the top of the board, 'What features make bats mammals? What are the basic needs of bats?'


  • Internet/Projector
  • Copies of Fact Sheet (1 per student, or several made into a mini-book)

Note: During this unit, I have lots of books about all kinds of animals around in the classroom, but with the Common Core State Standards there is a large emphasis on non-fiction books. The more exposure students have to non-fiction texts, real photographs, and information about the animals, the more connections they will make to the content.

Warm Up

10 minutes

Review of 6 Animal Classes Song

Today, we start with a quick song about 6 animal classes as a review. The song activates prior knowledge about the 6 animal classes and also engages them as a 'hook' into the lesson. It also engages my auditory learners and helps the students to more readily recall the classes. 

Then I show this video to introduce bats. The pictures are really the focus as the lyrics do not necessarily provide much information, so I ask students to not write during the video but rather to just watch the pictures. I use videos a lot because it is a visually stimulating way to convey information which captures the attention of my students, especially those who are visual learners. 

Watching videoNext, I show the lyrics and sing this song with students. This is a fun song to learn and it also includes a lot of the vocabulary I expect my students to become familiar with! Teaching it by singing helps my auditory students to remember the vocabulary more readily, and I can use the song during transition times in the future as a review.


35 minutes

Today, students work with a partner to find information about bats and then come back together in whole group to make sure we got everything we need for our Fact Sheets. I want to make sure they are supported in finding accurate information about the animal's basic needs so I carefully select texts for each group of 2-3 students to use that is on their reading level and supported by lots of pictures and/or photographs. I say,

"You are going to work in a group of 2 or 3 students and find out as much as you can about bats with the books I have given you. Try to fill out some parts of the Fact Sheet, if you can. If you are not sure about something you can ask when we get back in whole group. You have about 10 minutes to work."

After 9 minutes, I give a "1 minute to finish" warning and at 10 minutes I call everyone to the carpet with their Fact Sheet and a pencil. The rest of the lesson is whole group to make sure that the information students found was accurate and that we develop the understanding about why bats are considered mammals.

First, I show the students pictures of bats at different life stages in some of our non-fiction bat books. I am focusing on basic needs for the standards, but I think to clarify the 6 animal classes, looking at the animals as infants is important because that drinking milk as an infant is a feature of the mammal class. I say,

"Infant bats are called 'pups'. When they are born, they drink milk from their mother for about a month. Remember, we added that to our chart about mammals yesterday! Let's learn more about this using a website!"

I use my SmartBoard to share this website with the students and we look through the different pages about bats and continue to fill out our Fact Sheet as we go.Teacher Diagram of Bat Wing Part of the fact sheet is to draw a diagram and I model one on the board to help students who need more direction. We also listen to this song about echolocation to learn about how bats communicates. The students particularly love this one! Once we are close to completing the Fact Sheets, I use a non-fiction text to get a few more details. Watch us review in the Basic Needs of Bats Video.


Here are some examples of student work from today!

Student Work 1        Student Work 2       Student Work 3

Overall, we did a good job completing the Fact Sheets but it is evident that some students need a little extra time which I build in during their morning work the following day.


Wrap Up

5 minutes

To end the lesson, we discuss the Basic Needs of Bats using the Fact Sheets about squirrels and bats through conversation as a whole group. I focus on the 4 features of mammals by saying things like 'Both of these mammals have backbones! What other features do they both share?' I also take the conversation back to basic needs by making comparisons like 'Wow - squirrels need water and so do bats! Even though they get it from different places, they still need it to live'.

In tomorrow's lesson, we will compare the two and add humans, but for now we just talk informally about them and what we have learned. This supports Science and Engineering Practice 8, obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.