The period between sunset and sunrise is called night. When children sleep, things are happening. People work, animals are hunting, and the moon and stars shine. Take this night preschool unit across the curriculum with these ideas below.
Explore the Dark
As you start your discussion about night, ask the children about day and night to see how much they already know.
- Day is light. What things do you do during the day?
- Night is dark. What do you do when it is dark at night?
Next, turn a corner of your classroom into a night sky. Attach glow-in-the-dark stars and moons to the ceiling. Pass out flashlights to the children, and dim the lights for some exploration of the dark. As the children view this night sky, ask if they recall seeing the moon and stars outdoors at night before bedtime. Then, turn your attention to the flashlights, and ask if these lights help them to see in the dark. "Can you find a chair with your flashlight? Can you find your neighbor's hand with your flashlight?"
People like to view the night sky, and they use telescopes to help them find stars. In class, have the children make "telescopes" out of cardboard tubes. Give each child an empty toilet roll tube. Let them decorate the tube as they wish with crayons and markers. Send this home with a note to invite the parents to go star hunting with their child. The child can use his "telescope" to help focus on a few stars at a time, making these stars look clearer and brighter. Don't forget about the moon. Is it shining bright?
Animals of the Night
Some animals hunt at night while others sleep. The animals who are active at night are called nocturnal animals and include owls, raccoons, opossum, bats, frogs, fireflies, and locusts. Find books about nocturnal animals, and read to the children about these animals' eating and sleeping habits. Also talk about what they do in the night.
- Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
- Fireflies for Nathan by Shulamith L. Oppenheim
- Bats – Creatures of the Night by Joyce Milton
For an art project, have the children draw night creatures on white paper. Color them heavily with crayons. Mix black tempera paint with water and invite the children to paint over the entire picture with the paint. The crayon will resist the paint wash, so the animals will appear brightly in the night setting.
People Who Work at Night
Many of our community helpers work at night. Their jobs include police officers, fire fighters, ambulance drivers, truck drivers, and nurses. Ask if any parents have nighttime jobs. Invite a night worker to visit your class and talk about the things he/she does when the children are home sleeping.
Pajamas and Sleep
Ask the parents to send their children to school dressed in pajamas and slippers. They can even bring a blanket and stuffed animal. Dress the part yourself. During circle time talk about sleep at night, dreams, and even nightmares. Read the book, Go Away, Bad Dreams by Susan Hill. For an activity, make a “sleep and dream booklet.” On each page of a construction paper booklet, the children can draw pictures of themselves in their pajamas, sleeping in bed, and favorite dreams.
Explain how some people sing lullabies at night before bed. For a fun activity, have the children cradle one foot in their hands and call it their “foot baby.” Have them pat the foot, sing to it, and hum it to sleep. This is a good time to sing a favorite lullaby together like “Hush Little Baby,” “Lullaby and Goodnight,” or “Rock-a-Bye Baby.”
Yes, while we sleep at night, things are going on around us. Hopefully, this night preschool unit will help young children understand about this time period and some of the concepts that are part of the night life.
- Yolen, Jane. Owl Moon. Philomel, 1987
- Photo by mrmac04 on Morguefile.com
- Milton, Joyce. Bats – Creatures of the Night. Grosset & Dunlap, 1993
- Oppenheim, Shulamith L. Fireflies for Nathan. Puffin, 1996