Creatures of the Night


Cricket Thermometer                                                          

Find a chirping cricket and use the following formula to determine the temperature.  Pick out a field cricket’s calls and have the children focus their ears on it.  The colder the weather the more slowly the cricket chirps and the calling gets faster as the temperature climbs.  Count the number of chirps in a 15-second period.  Add 40 to this number and you will have roughly the current temperature.

Formula:     ____ (number of chirps in fifteen seconds)

+   40

=     F (degrees Fahrenheit)

Now do it several more times with different crickets and get the average temperature of all the calls.

Night Crawler Hunt                                                 

Take the flashlight covered with red cellophane if you have it out to your backyard and find the secretive night crawlers.  When do you think the best time to find night crawlers would be?  Why?  Go and find out!

Catchin’ Croakers

On a summer night, go to a local pond or wetland and look and listen for bullfrogs.  Take a flashlight with you.  Shine it around and look for two glowing eyes.  If your light is bright enough, you can temporarily “freeze” the frogs in place by shining the light into their eyes.  See if you can get close enough to catch them.  You will have to be fast!  Bring a bucket along filled with water to keep them in.  When you are done, let them all go.

Calling all Owls                                                                    

Take a hike and see if you can hear and maybe even see some owls.  Use an owl call if you have one to get some to try and answer you.  If not, Scheels has them.  Try to imitate the barred owl call by saying “who-cooks-for –you” into the call.  You can also say “Who, who, who-who…who-cooks-for-you.”   This will work best in the early morning, late evening, or at night.

Firefly Flashers                                                                    

In the summer, use the flashlights and send “code” signals back and forth to other fireflies.  Can you find your matching firefly and figure out the code? How many can you get to come close to your light?  Have fun catching them and placing them into a jar and then releasing them.  How many can you get?

Bat Hunt

This game is a version of Marco Polo that teaches the echolocation used by a bat to find food.  Since a bat has very poor sight, it must rely on echolocation, a type of sound identification to locate prey.  You can have a child be the bat by blindfolding him/her and having everyone else be insects.  Have the insects spread out in a defined area and have the bat call out “beep, beep.”  The insects must respond by saying “buzz, buzz.”  The bat then has to try to touch the insects.  When the insects are touched they must go to a certain area designated as the bat cave.  The last insect to be touched becomes the next bat.

Moth Walk

Mix overripe fruit, stale beer or wine and sweetner (honey, sugar, or molasses) in a blender and then go outside at sunset and smear the mixture on a half a dozen trees or unpainted wood.  Go back after dark and see what you have lured.  Depending on the season, you can find moths, ants, insects and earwings.


Go out on a clear night and take a look at the stars.  Bring a flashlight along with the constellations guide you can find online and see what ones you can identify.  You can use this site to help you.

Books and Information

Night Science for Kids, Terry Krautwurst (Ages 9-12)

NightSounds Frank Gallo and Lori Lohstoerter (Ages 4-8)

Guide to Nightsounds CD, Lang Elliot

Constellations, National Audubon

Keepers of the Night, Gaduto and Bruchac

Twighlight Hunt, Narelle Oliver (Ages 5-8)

Owl Moon, Jane Yolen (Ages 3-7)

Fireflies in the Night, Ellen Alexander (Ages 3-6)

Forest Bright, Forest Night, Jennifer Ward (Ages 3-8)

Bats, Holmes (Ages 7-9)

City of North Liberty Green Spaces Map

City of North Liberty Aquatic Habitat Location Map

Creatures of the Night Board Games

Shadows in the Forest

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