Exploring Biomes - Caves

Since this was our last class on biomes, or ecosysytems, I began the class by asking the children to name all the biomes we have studied so far.  After writing their responses on the white board, we summarized each ecosystem briefly.  Then, I asked them what flora and fauna mean.  They knew by now they mean plants and animals.

After this brief overview of the unit, I introduced the final biome: caves.   Giving them the actual definition of a cave helped them visualize the ecosystem.  Several of the students had visited caves before and shared some of their personal experiences.

Next we spoke about the three different kinds of animals who use caves.  Most of this information was found in  Properties of Ecosystems, lesson 23. These include:
  1. Trogloxenes - those animals who visit caves, but don't spend all of their time there
  2. Troglophiles - the animals who live in a cave, but spend some time outside of it
  3. Troglobites - the animals who spend all their time in a cave, and never leave

A good portion of time was spent discussing bats.  I used Bats, by Gail Gibbons and Bats: Night Fliers, by Betsy Maestro for visual aids and further information.

Then, the children made bats out of construction paper and clothespins. This is a craft I found at Enchanted Learning.

After their crafted bats were set to dry, we discussed where the animals who never leave a cave get food.  We had already covered the fact that most caves do not have a lot of plants since the sunlight is extremely limited.  The children thought of several scenarios, including:
  • food being washed in by water or blown in by wind
  • the animals eat other animals already in the cave
However, it was my son, who had already seen Planet Earth: Caves who blurted out the main source of food: bat guano (bat droppings).  From there, I outlined a food chain with bat guano at the beginning.  I also used this time to cover the limitations of life inside a cave.  It is definitely not an easy ecosystem to live in!

Finally, the children constructed "What's In a Cave?" booklets from Animal Habitats, Grades 2-3.

Bats, by Gail Gibbons
Bats: Night Fliers, by Betsy Maestro

Additional Cave Resource:
Planet Earth, Caves, BBC Video, DVD

Additional Bat Resources:
"Batty Over Bats" page 22 of Fascinating Facts: Science, Grades 2-3, published by The Mailbox
Amazing Bats, by Seymour Simon
The Magic School Bus Going Batty: A Book about Bats, by Nancy E. Krulik
Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon

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