First graders at Plainview Elementary learned about an oft-misunderstood flying mammal this week.
During Bat Cave Day, first grade teachers decorate their hallway with butcher paper bats and turn their rooms into caves. Kids spent the day learning all about echolocation, bat biology and what bats really eat.
“We studied owls last week, we’re studying bats this week,” first-grade teacher MacKenzie Love said. “So we brought it all together with Bat Cave Day.”
Love went all-out with bat tights, bat earrings, a bat necklace and an all-black ensemble. Her room was full of the sounds of chirping bats as her students learned about the animals by flashlight.
“Still, some think that they’re weird and gross, but I think now they have a different perspective on bats,” Love said. “They’ve learned to like them, and they’re pretty interesting creatures.”
Jennifer Portwood, another first-grade teacher, wore bats in her hair and a batty outfit as well.
“This morning we showed them some different diagrams of bats, their different bones and how they have a thumb,” Portwood said.
Students also did an activity with scented cotton balls, trying to match scents to one another. Human noses aren’t nearly as good at the game as a bat’s would be.
“That’s meant to show how bats use their sense of smell to find each other,” Portwood said.
 The week’s activities were varied. Teachers read classes the picture book Stellaluna, and students got to dissect owl pellets to see what owls eat.
“The kids found some really neat bones,” Love said. “It was so much fun.”
Love prompted a group of students to share what they’d learned over the course of the week: Bats only have one baby at a time, and baby bats are known as pups.

“What do we know about the pups when they’re born?” Love asked.

“They can’t see!” a few responded.

“And what do we know about their wings?” she asked.

“They can’t fly!” the group responded again, nearly in unison.

“Last year we did it on Halloween and it made for a really fun day,” Love said. “We’ve done bats with math, bats with reading, everything we could.”