For most of my preschool career I've worked with 4's & 5's. This year I took our younger class, which is a mix of 3's & 4's (half of my class is headed to Kindergarten, half will be in preschool for another year). When you work with 4's & 5's they usually have a small foundation of background knowledge, so when you discuss topics like outer space you can build on some of the things they already know. 3's on the other hand may or may not have any knowledge of a topic and sometimes look at you like you're from another planet when you introduce a topic like outer space! I'm appreciating the blend of knowledge in my class this year, and hope I'm giving my younger students a good foundation for next year.
Here are some of our activities we did while learning about the final frontier...
Squishy Paint Planets:
*Paper Circles, I used the centers cut from paper plates (leftover from another project)
We squirted the paint onto the paper circles, topped with wax paper and squished the paint around under the wax paper. No mess, BUT my students were not into this paint process at all - they sat down, squished for a minute and left. (I think they would rather be messy and have paint up to their elbows!) Even though the process failed, they came out pretty and I was able to use them to decorate : )
I set up our plywood "house" as a space shuttle. (In past years I have used refrigerator boxes, but I didn't have time to procure one this year.) I added:
*A "control panel" (number and dot stickers, also laminated).
*An abacus - for help in making mathematic computations ; )
*A flight board (which has seen better days - one of our past staff members made it out of a box, duct tape, an old video game controller, light switches, and a few other bobbles).
*Chairs for astronauts
Space Play Dough:
For some creative squishing and creating I added:
*Silver pipe cleaners
*Blue floral rocks
*Blue floral rocks
Rocket Color & Cut:
*Rocket Pattern (any picture would do!)
We've been working on our scissor skills so I printed off some rocket patterns (from a Mailbox book that I have) and let them go for it. Sometimes these simple projects are the most constructive. The kiddos colored, cut, and flew their rockets around our room. One of my students carried his rocket around for several days : ).
Actually, the rocket flying became so crazy that I had to come up with a way to keep them from colliding! I grabbed my poly-dots, placed them on the floor and gave the kiddos instructions to have their rockets hop from "planet" to "planet". This allowed them to use their gross motor energy in a more safe and constructive way.
Don't you love activities that emerge from necessity? ; )
*Multicolored and sized stars, (created on MS Publisher, cut out, and laminated)
*Chart for sorting (my "chart" is a piece of bulletin board paper that has yet to be laminated!)
I had these stars at a table for a center activity and I also used them for group games.
To start our games I hid the stars around the room for the students to find (always fun!)
Then we would come sit down as a group and sort them by size or color. After they are sorted we looked to count, compare and contrast.
*Construction paper (large piece for background, pieces cut into small squares and triangles to create rocket).
*Earth or planet pictures
We helped the kiddos to spell their names and place the pieces in the correct order to create their rocket. Then they added stars, the earth, and colored.