Elementary Programs Chapter

By Laura Douglas and Stacey Irish-Keffer

Section 6: Stock Car: Stories about Animals

Section 6: Stock Car: Stories about Animals

Step lively! The stock car is where the animals are held while being shipped. Use these programs to explore interesting facts about different kinds of animals.

Bulletin Board

Clipart - Text on side of Engine says 'Stories about animals' on left side and 'The Reading Express' on right side. Several animals are shown (large bird, pig, snake)

Featured Book

Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies.

Books to Display:

All About Sharks by Jim Arnosky.

Face to Face with Sharks by David Doubilet.

Shark by Marinda MacQuitty.

Sharks by Seymour Simon.

Sharks: Biggest! Littlest! by Sandra Markle.

Introduction of Featured Book

Show the children the cover of the book, and ask the children what they think the story is about. Ask them some of the following questions.

“What do you know about sharks?”

“Can you name some different kinds of sharks?”

“Where do sharks live?


Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies.


Show some pictures of the sharks mentioned in the story from a book like Shark by Marinda MacQuitty. Discuss some of the surprising facts you read about in the story. Ask the children which shark is their favorite? What shark did they find the most interesting?

Nonfiction Topic: Sharks

Use the World Book Encyclopedia, nonfiction books, and web sites to find facts about the nonfiction connections.


Share some of following shark facts and show pictures of sharks like the ones mentioned in the story. Sharks do not have any bones in their body. Their skeletons are made of cartilage. Some sharks have up to 3000 razor-sharp teeth, while people have only thirty-two. If a shark breaks or loses a tooth, another one takes its place. The whale shark is the largest, sometimes reaching 50 feet long. The Great White Shark is one of three species that will attack people (the others are Bull Sharks and Tiger Sharks).


Ocean Diorama

  • Sea creature templates
  • Blue construction paper
  • Scrap paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue

image of blue construction paper and scissors, there are four slits cut into construction paper

Image that shows blue construction paper with cut out colored sea creatures (whales, dolphins, seals) and the bottom uses brown construction to place for an eel, star fish, treasure chest, lobster, and vegetation

Find the sea creature patterns at the end of this program.


In advance, fold the blue construction paper in half lengthwise. Cut a pair of slits at each end about two inches from the edges along the fold. Distribute one piece of paper to each child to use as the diorama background. Encourage the children to decorate the blue construction paper to look like the ocean. If desired, glue brown construction paper for the sea floor. Draw and color various ocean animals or, alternately, cut out sea creatures from the sea creature templates and glue them on to the paper. Unfold the page and push out the slits to make the diorama stand up.

Lunch Bag Fish

(Adapted by Stacey Irish-Keffer from Create Kids Crafts.)

  • Paper lunch sacks
  • Markers or crayons
  • Scrap paper or newspaper
  • Twist tie or string
  • Glue sticks

Distribute the lunch sacks and crayons or markers. Let each child color the sack to look like a fish. The bottom of the sack is the fish’s head and the open end is the tail. Stuff the sack with scrap paper or newspaper until it is about half full. Gather the “tail” and tie it off with a twist tie or string. Use scrap paper and glue to add fins and other details to finish.

Web Sites

Shark Guide


This web site from the Discovery Channel offers pictures, videos, games, and more related to sharks.

Professional Resources

Enchanted Learning


This site offers an excellent selection of ocean-related crafts and activity sheets.



This site provides shark activities, including worksheets, coloring pages, and online games.

Featured Book

A Pair of Polar Bears: Twin Cubs Find a Home at the San Diego Zoo by Joanne Ryder.

Books to Display:

Baby Polar Bear by Aubrey Lang.

Face to Face with Polar Bears by Norbert Rosing.

Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World by Juliana and Isabella Hatkoff.

Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear by Isabel Thomas.

Polar Bears on the Hudson Bay by Dan Leathers.

Introduction of Featured Book

Show the cover of the book, and ask the children what they think the story is about. Ask a few more questions such as the following.

“What do you know about polar bears?”

“Where do polar bears live in the wild?”

“Find Alaska, Canada, and the Arctic on a globe or map.”


A Pair of Polar Bears: Twin Cubs Find a Home at the San Diego Zoo by Joanne Ryder.


Ask questions about the story, such as the ones below, to start a short discussion of the book.

“Where were the polar bear cubs found?”

“Why were they moved to the San Diego Zoo?”

“What do the bears do in their new home?”

“How do you think the bears feel about their new home?”

To view real images of the polar bears that were introduced in the story, visit the San Diego Zoo’s Polar Cam at http://www.sandiegozoo.org/polarcam/index.html. The site also provides more information about the polar bear twins, Kalluk and Tatqiq, as well as another polar bear named Chinook.

Nonfiction Topic: Polar Bears

Polar Bears

Ask the children what they know about polar bears? Let them share some facts, but gently correct any misinformation. The scientific name of polar bear is Ursus maritimus, which means “sea bear.” Ask the children why they think polar bears have that scientific name. What do polar bears eat in the wild? How are their bodies structured to withstand the cold? Show pictures of polar bears and brown bears and discuss the differences between the two species.


Snow Pictures

(By Stacey Irish-Keffer.)

  • Polar bear patterns
  • White construction paper
  • White felt
  • Yellow felt
  • Blue felt
  • Cotton balls
  • Markers and crayons
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Find the polar bear pattern at the end of this program.

images that shows polar bear on ice glacier. The sky has two fluffy white clouds and fluffy round sun in the sky


In advance, make enough copies of the Polar Bear Pattern for each child to have one. Distribute a sheet of white construction paper and a polar bear pattern to each child. Cut out the polar bear and glue it to the white construction paper. Decorate the picture with white felt and cotton balls to look like snow and icebergs. Add pieces of yellow felt for the sun and blue felt for water.

Crayon Resist Snow Scenes

(Adapted by Stacey Irish-Keffer from Kinderart.)

  • Polar bear patterns
  • Black construction paper
  • Black crayons
  • White tempera paint
  • Paintbrushes

Find the polar bear pattern at the end of this program.

Image of a polar bear drawing - the drawing has stars, sun, pine trees, and a large polar bear


In advance, water down the tempera paint to thin it. Distribute a piece of black construction paper and a black crayon to each child. Trace around the polar bear pattern with the black crayon and then color the image with the black crayon. Encourage the children to press hard with the crayons and use a lot of wax. Paint over the entire picture with watered-down white tempera paint. When the tempera paint dries, the picture should appear.

Web Sites

Creature Features


National Geographic’s interactive site features facts about polar bears, videos of bears in action, sound files, and other information. The site also features brown bears and a multitude of other animals.

Professional Resources

Bear Planet


This site provides information and links to everything about the various types of bears living on the planet.

Featured Book

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon.

Books to Display:

Amazing Bats by Seymour Simon.

Bats by Julia Vogel.

Bats: Hunters of the Night by Elaine Landau.

Gray Bat by Susan Heinrichs Gray.

Outside and Inside Bats by Sandra Markle.

Introduction of Featured Book

Show the cover of the book, and ask the children what they think the story is about. Encourage more discussion with these questions such as the following.

“What do you know about bats?”

“What kinds of bats are there?”

“Where do bats live?”

“Are bats helpful to us?”


Stellaluna by Janell Cannon.


Ask questions about the story, such as the ones below, to start a short discussion of the book.

“What variety of bat is Stellaluna?”

“How did Stellaluna become separated from her mother?”

“What does Stellaluna learn about being a bat?”

“What do Stellaluna and the birds learn about each other?”

Facts about Nonfiction Topics: Bats and Vampire Bats

Use the World Book Encyclopedia, nonfiction books, and web sites to find facts about the nonfiction connections.


Bats are the only mammal that can fly. A mammal is an animal that feeds its young with mother’s milk. Describe the two main types of bats, megabats and microbats, and show pictures of them. Megabats are large bats that eat fruit and plants. The largest bat in the world is the gigantic flying fox from Asia. Microbats are smaller bats, about the size of a mouse, that usually eat insects. The smallest and most common bat in the world is the pipistrelle. Ask the children whether Stellaluna is a microbat or megabat. Show pictures of the different kinds of bats.

Vampire Bats

Many people are frightened by or fascinated with vampire bats. Vampire bats live in Central and South America. They weigh about one ounce and have a wingspan of twelve inches. In spite of their name, they do not suck the blood from their victims. Rather they bite the animal and then lick the blood. They rarely bite humans, most often preying on cattle.


Bat Masks

  • Bat mask pattern
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn
  • Markers and crayons
  • Scissors

Find the bat mask pattern at the end of this program.

colored bat mask. The mask uses green for the hair, and green to highlight the ears, and a large extended red tongue


In advance, copy enough bat mask patterns for each child to have one. Distribute the patterns. Encourage the children to use the crayons and markers to decorate the masks. Cut out the mask on the black lines and cut out eye holes. Use the hole punch to place a hole on each side of the mask. Thread the yarn through the holes. Tie the yarn to secure the mask in place.

Games and Activities

Bat Hunter

(Adapted by Stacey Irish-Keffer from Zoom. This is a Marco Polo game intended for at least 6 players.)

Pick one child to be the bat. Have the bat leave the room while you pick another child to be the moth. All the other children will be trees. Everyone forms a circle and stands still. Before allowing the bat to return to the room, place a blindfold over the bat’s eyes. Help the bat walk around the room searching for the moth. The bat should call out “echo” and the moth should answer “prey.” All the trees will respond by saying “tree.” The bat continues calling until the moth is found. When the bat finds the moth, that player becomes the bat and a new moth is chosen. Continue playing until everyone has been either the bat or the moth.

Guest Speakers

Invite a bat conservation specialist to come talk about bats. Bat Conservation International,http://www.batcon.org/, is located in Austin, TX. Bat World, www.batworld.org/tours/tours3.html, has educational programs that can be booked and provides a list of local bat rehabilitators that might offer educational programs.

Web Sites

Bat Conservation International


This organization’s Kidz Cave provides a selection of kid friendly activities and crafts.

Bat World


This rescue organization’s Kids Page includes interactive games and printable puzzles featuring bats.

Creature Features


National Geographic’s interactive site features facts about vampire bats, videos of bats in their cave, sound files, and other information.

Professional Resources

DLKT: Growing Together


This parenting site provides patterns and instructions for a broad selection of bat-related crafts and activities.



This site provides information about bats, as well as instructions for crafts, online activities and coloring pages.

Program Materials

Stock Car: Stories About Animals – Sea Creature Patterns

Printer Friendly PDF Version (17 KB)

sea creature pattern - 3 patterns of a star fish, seahorse, and fish

Stock Car: Stories About Animals – Polar Bear Patterns

Printer Friendly PDF Version (15 KB)

Polar Bear Pattern - one polar bear on sheet

Stock Car: Stories About Animals – Bat Mask Pattern

Printer Friendly PDF Version (12 KB)

Bat Mask Pattern - one head of bat on sheet

Texas Reading Club 2010 Programming Manual / Catch the Reading Express!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011