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Bat and Moth
[Joseph Cornell]

At least one blindfold, and at least 6 people

Indoors / outdoors. Good places—clearings in Skinny Woods, Hawkhill Wood, Innocent Walkway, fields in Craigmillar Castle Park. Preferably not too uneven a surface.

This game illustrates how bats use their hearing to find their prey (through echo-location) —and not their eyesight. Allows the children to experience this first hand, by using their own hearing and sense of direction.

Everyone is to stand in a circle - these people are trees in a woodland. The space in the middle is a woodland clearing. All trees must stand up, with their roots in the ground. This is the setting for a special event that you wouldn’t often see, because it happens at night, when we’re all in bed. Explain that this game is like ‘blind man's buff’, only it shows how bats catch their prey.

Some bats catch their prey in woodland clearings just like this one. They come out at night, but what do they eat? No, they don’t eat human blood! Some eat fruit, some eat flowers, some big ones eat mice and some eat moths, which also come out at night. How do they catch moths in the dark? By using sound and their hearing - like sonar. So, that’s how our bat is going to catch our moth! 

One person should be chosen to be a bat and another person to be a moth. The bat is blindfolded. Explain that, to catch their moth, the bat must send a sonar signal by shouting ‘bat’. This sound travels away from the bat and then bounces off the moth. The reflected signal (echo) is the word 'moth', which the moth shouts, whilst trying to keep away from the bat. The bat should be listening out, with its sensitive hearing, for the direction in which the ‘moth’ sound comes from, in order to track it down and catch it. The bat continues to shout ‘bat’ and each time the moth hears this, they must shout ‘moth’. [This is essential for the game to work!] Try to encourage the bats to catch their prey at waist height.

The trees’ role is to help the animals stay inside the clearing. If they go too close to the edge, the trees can gently guide them back into the circle by using their arms and making a ‘swoosh’ing sound. If the bat is having trouble catching their moth, suggest that all the trees take a step in, to reduce the size of the circle.

The numbers of bats and moths in the circle can be varied.

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