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Nature at Night: Learning After Dark

Do you like the unusual? Why not do a little bit of science exploration after dark and shake up the HOW and WHERE for learning? Check out the following books for a start and read some of the descriptions and/or fun facts and ideas I've included below each.

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Discover Nature at Sundown

by Elizabeth P. Lawlor

There are all kinds of enjoyable learning opportunities just waiting in the shadows, and everyone will have fun—all while experiencing the nocturnal side of nature!

Time for Kids: Spiders

by the Editors of Time for Kids

Spiders, especially wolf spiders, are very common and easy to spot in your yard at night. According to the experts at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the spiders have a green ‘eye shine’ that is caused “by a tapetum in the eye which reflects light rays back through the eye retina and probably enhances the spider’s night vision.” For a neat activity, use a flashlight or small light that straps around the forehead and walk slowly through your yard, casting the beam towards the ground. You will be amazed at all the beautiful jewel-like glitters you’ll see. These are actually the spiders’ eyes! Shine the light closer to the ‘glitters’ and you’ll probably find a spider. Is it a wolf spider or some other kind? Find out!


by Megan E. Bryant

Fireflies or lightning bugs are fascinating creatures that sparkle and flicker in the summer woods. Light production in fireflies is due to a type of chemical reaction called bioluminescence, and the bugs light up to attract a mate. For a fun activity, catch and place several fireflies in a jar with a mesh top for a few minutes. Examine these extraordinary insects that have the ability to produce cold light. Observe the phenomena of bioluminescence before gently releasing the fireflies.

A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations–and How You Can Find Them in the Sky

by Michael Driscoll

Few things are lovelier than a clear night sky filled with twinkling stars. So why not take it one step further and do a bit of studying as you stargaze? However, although there is a plethora of scientific information concerning navigation, the atmosphere, telling time by the stars, mythology, or seasonal changes that would be interesting to pursue, simply looking upward at the stars and finding constellations or ‘pictures in the sky’ is a pleasurable pastime in its own right. How many constellations can you identify? Purchase or check out a book--or find a relevant website and start gazing at the stars.

Hear and There Book: Night Sounds

by Frank Gallo

Whooo, whooo do you hear hooting or calling out in the night? Owls, spring peepers, frogs, crickets, and katydids all make interesting sounds that are fun to identify. As you walk around outside in the evening, do you hear noises that are familiar? Now, listen really hard. Do you hear animal calls or sounds that you may not have noticed before? Find out what they are and read about the insect or animal you have identified!

This book is more appropriate for younger children, but regardless of age, listening for new night sounds and trying to identify the source is still a cool activity for the whole family.

So what are you waiting for? There are lots of neat things happening in nature at night. Start exploring and see what you can discover after dark!

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