Following my winter preschool lesson plans and hibernation activities for preschoolers and arctic animals, I like to spend some time teaching my preschoolers about the nightlife of nocturnal animals. Try these free nocturnal animals lesson plans for preschoolers.
Free Preschool Lesson Plans for Nocturnal Animals Theme
With the winter nights being so long, I find it very fitting to study nocturnal animals after all the fun of our winter and arctic activities.
Nocturnal animal activities are so fun with some amazing ideas for how to teach this theme, too. This post features nocturnal animal crafts as well as math and literacy ideas…and of course some nocturnal animal science activities, too.
FAQ About Teaching a Nocturnal Animals Theme to Preschoolers
When teaching preschoolers about nocturnal animals, I get asked these questions a lot.
A nocturnal animals preschool theme can be taught at various times throughout the school year. Some preschool teachers like to teach it in the winter because the nights are already long and preschoolers have firsthand experience with being awake when it is still dark out.
However, it’s also fun to teach preschoolers about nocturnal animals around Halloween. In fact, if your preschool doesn’t permit celebrating Halloween, a week about nocturnal animals is a good alternative.
If an animal is nocturnal, it means that it is active at night, rather than during the day like humans are. Nocturnal animals do all their hunting and mating at night and they sleep during the day.
Nocturnal animals have special physical adaptations that make nighttime activity easier. For example, many nocturnal animals like owls and cats have special eyes that help them see well in the dark. Nocturnal animals like bats and shrews use echolocation to navigate their surroundings. Other nocturnal animals like rabbits and mice have excellent hearing.
16+ Hands-on Nocturnal Animals Activities for Preschoolers
These activities are designed to be easy to prep, requiring only the most basic household supplies. They are also a part of my Learn At Home Preschool Lesson Plans Collection.
Literacy Activities for a Nocturnal Animals Theme
Animal Alphabet Puzzles – Download these animal alphabet puzzles and print them, preferably on cardstock paper. After cutting them out, invite your child to help you match the letter to the animal with that beginning sound. As you match, determine if that animal is nocturnal or diurnal (awake during the day). If you aren’t sure, look up the animal on the internet to learn more! Sort the animals by nocturnal or diurnal as you complete the puzzles.
Nocturnal Animal Book – After learning all about animals that are nocturnal or diurnal, it’s time to make a book! Staple 5-10 pages together and invite your child to draw 3-4 animals that are nocturnal and 3-4 that are diurnal. Write a simple repeating sentence on the bottom of each page such as, “This is an owl. It is nocturnal.” Continue this pattern until the book has lots of animals. Read it together, pointing to each word. Celebrate your little author!
Picture Books about Nocturnal Animals
Every preschool theme can be made better with exceptional books for learning. Here is a nocturnal animal book list. These are the exact books I have in my own preschool library.
Math and Science Activities for a Nocturnal Animals Theme
Bat Pasta Counting – Grab some black paint and bow-tie-shaped pasta. Add both to a zip-top baggie and shake around until the pasta “bats” are covered with the paint. Lay them out to dry, then use them for counting activities.
Build an Animal Cage – Gather some playdough, popsicle sticks, and some small plastic animals or counters. Roll out the playdough and stick the popsicle sticks into the playdough to create the walls with the animal inside. How many sticks did each cage need?
Create Your Own Nocturnal Animal – Invite your preschooler to draw their own nocturnal animal. Nocturnal animals have big ears/eyes or some other special feature to help them. What would your animal look like?
Playful Learning Activities for a Nocturnal Animals Theme
Stuffed Animal Campout – Grab those stuffed animals and build a fort like it’s nighttime. Invite the animals to come out of their “home” to search for food. Prepare pretend food for them.
Animal Line Up – Gather all the toy animals available (stuffed, plastic, animal counters, etc.) and put down painter’s tape in different lines (zig-zag, straight, curved). Invite your preschooler to line them up on the tape. Kids love it!
Shadow Puppets – Go into a dark room and grab a flashlight. Experiment with forming your hands (and feet) in different ways to create shadow puppets on the wall. Check out this video for more shadow puppet ideas!
Social-Emotional Activities for a Nocturnal Animals Theme
Animals Have Feelings too! – Go to YouTube and watch the video Identifying Feelings with Animals. Invite your preschooler to answer along with the video and practice identifying all sorts of feelings based on body language and facial expressions. Feel free to question why the animals might be having these feelings by asking what might cause an animal to be mad or unhappy.
My Wallaby Won’t Use his Words – Go to YouTube and watch the video My Wallaby Won’t Use His Words. This engaging video teaches the lesson of using our words to share our feelings rather than throwing a tantrum or screaming when we feel frustrated or upset. In this video, preschoolers learn ways to calm down when they feel angry and how to express their feelings with control and respect. Invite your preschooler to share examples of when they felt frustrated or upset. What ways could they use to share how they feel? How could they make their mad feelings turn into happy feelings?
Just Plain Fun Activities for a Nocturnal Animals Theme
Forest Craft – This is a cute forest craft that features night time animals peering out from around trees in the night time. Cut out pieces of brown construction paper into long strips. Glue them on black paper to make lots of tree trunks in the night time. Add some scraps of green construction paper to make leaves, too. Finally, add sets of googly eyes between the trees, peering out to you. These eyes peering out are your nocturnal animals.
Fine Motor Bats – Use the pasta bats from the math activity and add to a sensory bin of dried black beans. Invite your preschooler to pick them out for fine motor work.
Spider Web Painting – Using white paint and a comb, invite your preschooler to “paint” a spider web on black paper. Add strips of black paper to add the legs of a spider. Add googly eyes and display proudly!
Get Online Activities for a Nocturnal Animals Theme
Online Story – Go to YouTube and listen to the book Night Animals by Gianna Marino. After reading this funny story, invite your preschooler to draw some animals he/she might see if they were camping. What animals would they like to see at night? What animals would be frightening to encounter?
Nocturnal Animal Song – This catchy song (see below) is a great way to introduce the vocabulary words “nocturnal” and “diurnal” with fun examples of each animal.
Night Animals for Kids – Watch the video below to learn more about different types of nocturnal animals and special features that help them hunt at night.
Get Your Free Nocturnal Animal Activities Below
Think a nocturnal animals theme would be fun in preschool? I assure you, it is! Grab your own copy of my free Learn At Home Preschool lesson plans by clicking the image below.
I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction