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Moth, the Fire Dancer

Keepers of the Night - Native American Stories and Nocturnal Activities for Children



Moth, The Fire Dancer is part of a compilation entitled Keepers of the Night which provides an integrated approach to teaching the mystery and fascination of the animals, plants, and insects that inhabit the world of night. Through the use of Native North American stories, nighttime artistic and scientific activities, children learn to develop a caring, constructive relationship with nature and the outdoors.

Moth, The Fire Dancer introduces its theme, insects, spiders and plants at night, with a Native American story.  The discussion section that follows provides background information and questions about the night and its nocturnal interactions between insects, spiders and flowers.  Students participate in a variety of activities that vary from playing games to scientific experiments. Each activity provides goals, detailed teaching instructions and a list of required materials.

The Scents of Attraction – Using a variety of pleasant liquid scents, the students play a game to understand why scent is a good attractant for moths.  

Light Up the Night – Students set out different coloured lights and observe which colours generally attract more insects. They record and share their observations.   

The Blooming Night – Students discover the sensory world of flowers that bloom at night. They observe insects and spiders that are active on flowers at night.    

Cricket Cacophony – Students learn how and why crickets call in the evening and at night. They listen to crickets calling and create their own cricket chorus.  

Cricket Thermometer – Students listen to the number of calls made by the field cricket in fifteen seconds and use a formula to calculate the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius. 

Firefly Flashers – Students learn why fireflies create and flash their lights. They participate in a game during which they identify their mate by recognizing a particular flash of pattern of lights. 

The Spider and the Firefly – Students use a red light to observe a spider in action on its web at night. 

Poetry to Your Ears – Students create poems from words describing the unique sounds of the night.

A section entitled Extending the Experience provides a variety of activities to reinforce and supplement the lessons of the story and activities.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Students listen to the number of calls made by the field cricket in fifteen seconds and use a formula to calculate the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius.


  • A large quantity of background information for teachers.
  • Excellent outdoors activities to encourage an interconnectness with the nocturnal environment.
  • Excellent activites for an environmental program or school activities that involve an overnight field trip to wilderness areas.
  • Excellent lessons plans which involve using most of our senses to experience the nocturnal environment.
  • Includes many extending the experience activities
  • The resource is very teacher friendly. All activities include an easy to use symbols system that provides a quick reference to both the setting and the topics of that activity. 


  • No teacher support such as resources on the web, contact numbers, teacher workshops information.
  • Include discussions regarding issues, problems and solutions that surround the nocturnal environment.
  • No assessment rubrics/tools
  • No action components are suggested

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living Systems: Understandings of the living world, Earth, and space are deepened through investigating natural systems and their interaction
    • Grade 5
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Wetland Ecosystems
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Senses
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • My Environment
    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Habitat and Communities
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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    • Grade 1
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      • Science
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        • Materials, Objects & Our Senses
    • Grade 4
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      • Science
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        • Habitats
  • Northwest Territories
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    • Grade 1
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    • Grade 4
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      • Science
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        • Life Systems: Habitats & Communities
    • Grade 5
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  • Nova Scotia
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    • Grade 4
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  • Nunavut
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    • Grade 1
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    • Grade 5
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  • Prince Edward Island
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Materials, Objects and Our Senses
    • Grade 4
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Habitats
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 1
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Using Our Senses

Themes Addressed

Ecosystems (2)

  • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Biodiversity

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Poor/Not considered
  • Non-applicable in this resource
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered
  • No action experience opportunities are provided.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Poor/Not considered
  • Students are not given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
  • The resource uses native wisdom to help students learn about insects and plants.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good
  • All of the activities take place outdoors during the evening or night. Each activity encourages a personal affinity with insects, spiders and plants.
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good
  • Students visit their own local environment such as a forest, pond or grassland to experience the night time activities.
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory
  • The resource introduces its theme using a Native North American legend. The book provides a map of native North America showing cultural areas and tribal locations as they appeared around 1600.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good
  • Students observe and experience the nocturnal environment using some of their senses. Through a variety of hands-on, outdoor activities they learn to understand, live with and care for nature at night. Students are encouraged to share their observations/discoveries.
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Math
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
  • Through experiments and observations students gather information about different insects, spiders and plants.
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good
  • All activities and experiments take place in a outdoor, nocturnal environment.
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
  • Students work in pairs or groups for most of the activities. They are invited to share their experiences or discoveries.
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered
  • No reflection or self-assessment opportunities are provided.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
  • Students are given the opportunity to share their experiences or lead the entire group over to see any exciting discoveries they may have made.
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered
  • No case studies are used.
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory
  • The Extending the Experience section offers some suggestions but most of the activities are teacher directed.
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.