This year, I get the privilege of taking one of our ASD students to class with the Enrichment kids. What is Enrichment? These are the above average kids who get to experience an hour out of their day doing brain stimulating activities that are a bit more challenging, which they need in their day. Otherwise, they can get a little bored in a general ed. reading and math class, so this is a little treat for them and they have to earn it by keeping their grades up.
The teacher, Mr. O’Reilly has been teaching 5th grade at HV for many years, but this is only his second year of teaching Enrichment. He chose a fun unit on Bats, which I truly learned many new facts about these little creatures. In his classroom, the rule is…you have to put in the work before we get to the fun stuff. So with our bat unit, the kids had many articles to read, a test to pass about different types of bats and their behaviors, foods they eat, echolocation, etc… then they moved on to the fun activity…making their “bat masks”.
We concentrated on two types of bats…the Microbat and the Megabat. Bats are the second largest order of mammals (after the rodents), representing about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with about 1,240 bat species divided into two suborders: the less specialized and largely fruit-eating megabats, or flying foxes, and the highly specialized and echolocating micro bats. About 70% of bat species are insectivores. Most of the rest are frugivores, or fruit eaters.
Once I get into these type of classes, I end up going home after school and looking on Wikipedia and finding more information to share. I thought this was interesting and wanted to include it in my blog. In many languages, the word for “bat” is cognate with the word for “mouse”. An older English name for bats is flittermouse, which matches their name in other Germanic languages (for example German Fledermaus and Swedish fladdermus).
Now that you’ve read the work portion…you get to move on to the fun stuff! We spent two weeks working on our bat masks. Like I said, these kids are above average, so they need a challenge and these masks had lots of instruction and detail to them. Each student was given five pieces of marked sheets to make their mask. Step one was to “score” the dotted lines on each piece with a special tool and ruler. This will help in the folding process later on. I loved how the kids just looked at him with a blank stare. Most were thinking…”What the heck is this tool for?” Again, these kids get exposure to things and tools, that others don’t in school. After Mr. O’Reilly explained how to use it, they got to work.
So this process took them a day or so to complete because there were so many lines and a lot of them needed help because they aren’t very strong and barely made a dent in their papers. I had to help, especially with the girls. The boy that I worked with (Andrew), dropped out after the second line and says…okay, you did it now. ha~
Next step was to start folding all of these creases that we now have in our thick paper. I learned that there are two types of folds. The “V” fold and the Mountain fold. Okay, this took a minute every time I picked up a piece of paper. Had to tell myself, “make the v, or make the mountain”…very stressful, if you went the wrong way. Again, Andrew dropped out after his mountain went flat. Okay, I’m on it!
The third step was the gluing stage. Andrew did quite well on this stage because it required counting and he’s a numbers guy. We figured out a great system where I would put the glue on and hand it over to him to hold for 30 seconds. He always went a minute, just to be sure. I like it. The next day, we examined our work and did a trial run of putting on the mask. Yes! Ours stayed together and will be ready for the final step. Mr. O’Reilly was going to spray paint them black to make them really look cool. We were pretty excited for Monday to come.
While waiting for the masks to come back all painted, we did one other project that was very neat. Potato prints. The kids used a bat stencil of their choice, and carved out the potato around the stencil to make a bat impression stick out, thus making a stamp. Very cool and they all loved doing this and needed no help at all. Once it became a stamp, they pressed it into black paint and stamped all over their paper. In the end, it looked like a bat cave! We hung them out in the hallway for all to see.
The next week came and the students couldn’t wait to see their masks. All of them wanted me to take their pictures too. haha. I took a few in the classroom, then suggested to Mr. O’Reilly that I should do a group shot out in the hallway in front of the “bat caves.” He loved that idea, so off we went.
We sure had a fun time making these masks and learning about Bats. I love this group of kids and all of their wonderful questions they ask. It’s my favorite hour of the day. Our next big project will be making kites this spring. I will be camera ready to show it all to you.