Creatures of the Night, by Judith E. Rinard

This book is part of a series from the; Books for Young Explorers National Geographic Society.  It is full of wonderful close up photographs of many nocturnal animals, a great resource for any classroom.


  • Nature magazines with pictures of nocturnal animals.
  • American Sign Language pictures
  • Preparation of number charts, 1 per child.
  • Several flashlights


  • Nocturnal (animals that come out at night and mostly sleep during the day)

Before Reading the Book

Ask the children if they know what the word nocturnal means.  Ask the children if they can think of any animals that are nocturnal.  Write these down on a large sheet of paper.

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; uses an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary.  AND Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; grows in eagerness to learn about and discuss a growing range of topics, ideas, and tasks.

Reading the Story

This is a book that may be better to take a walk through versus reading with younger children.  As you go through, allow the children to name the animals they recognize and to share any observations that they may have.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.

After Reading the Story

Look again at the list the children made of nocturnal animals.  Can they add any others to their list?  Did they think of any that were not in the book? (If someone has a pet gerbil they might have put it on the list though it is not in the book, congratulate them for thinking of something extra).

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.


Put the book into the discovery center to allow the children to further investigate. 

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation;shows growing interest in reading -related activities, such as asking to have a favorite book read,; choosing to look at books; drawing pictures based on stories; asking to take books home; going to the library; and engaging in pretend-reading with other children.

Bring in a large box or put a scarf over your science center table to make a cave.  Give the children nature magazines and have them cut out nocturnal animals and tape to the walls.  The children can crawl inside and pretend that it is night time.  Add a flashlight.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; grows in eye-hand coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes and patterns, stringing beads, and using scissors.

Music and Movement

           Sing Nocturnal Animals-sung to Frere Jaqua

Nocturnal animals, nocturnal animals,

Come out at night, come out at night

You may see the owl, looking for food

In the night, in the night.

You may see the bat, flying in the sky

You may hear the frog, singing near the pond

You may see the firefly, twinkling his light

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.


Give each child two poker chips.  Show them how to lay one down flat and to use the other to make it jump by rubbing it quickly over the edge of the first.  Suggest to the children that these are frogs.  Encourage them to make a pond out of blocks and then practice jumping their frogs into the pond.  This can be challenging for some children, encourage them to keep trying.

Approaches to learning/Engagement & Persistence; grows in abilities to persist in and complete a variety of tasks, activities,  projects, and experiences.


Let the children finger paint with a dark color to make a nighttime backdrop.  Next have the children go through old nature magazines and cut out animals that come out at night.  Glue these to the finger painting when it is dry.  If you have no magazines, encourage the children to draw their own nocturnal animals.

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; develops growing abilities to collect, describe, and record information through a variety of means, including discussion, drawings, maps, and charts.

Sand and Water

Fill the table with water.  Add plastic foods.  Note that raccoons look for fruits and vegetables at night and then wash them before they eat it.  Encourage the children to pretend to be raccoons and wash the plastic foods, sorting out the fruits and vegetables.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; shows increasing abilities to match, sort, put in a series, and regroup objects according to one or two attributes such as shape or size.

Library and Writing

 Use the sign cards to show the children how to sign language some of the nocturnal animals.  When they get good at these,you can incorporate them into the song Nocturnal Animals.

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; develops increasing abilities ti understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions; and for other varied purposes.  AND Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities; progresses in understanding similarities and respecting differences among people such as genders, race, special needs, culture, language, and family structures.

Dramatic Play

See Discovery

Math and Manipulatives

Make number charts with the children. On a long piece of construction paper make 10 lines across going down the paper.  On the left hand side write the numbers 1-10.  Let the children glue the appropriate number of animals to each line. Older children can be shown how to use a ruler to draw the lines and numbers.  Label the top, I Can Count Nocturnal Animals

Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to associate number concepts, vocabulary, quantities, and written numerals in a meaningful way.  AND Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; enhances abilities to recognize, duplicate, and extend simple patterns  using a variety of materials.

Outdoor Play

 Can you jump like a frog?  Can you hang upside down like an opossum/bat?  Can you fly like an owl/bat? Can you run and hide like a mouse? Can you walk quietly like a leopard?  Can you howl like a coyote?  Can you leap like a flying squirrel?  

Approaches to Learning/Reasoning & Problem Solving; grows is recognizing and solving problems through active exploration, including trial and error, and in interactions with peers and adults.  AND Physical Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; participates actively in games, outdoor play, and other forms of exercise that enhance physical fitness.


Play, I’m Thinking Of A Nocturnal Animal.  Begin to describe one of the animals in the book and see if the children can guess.  (I’m thinking of a nocturnal animal that flies at night and catches insects to eat.  During the day this animals sleeps upside down some place dark and quiet).


About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.