Are you teaching an Earth or Volcano theme in your preschool classroom or homeschool? Keep reading for the most Extraordinary Earth activities around!
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PRESCHOOL EARTH & VOLCANO ACTIVITIES
Preschoolers love learning about the world around them. Teaching an Extraordinary Earth unit is so much fun because it covers so many fascinating topics for little learners, including continents, oceans, landforms, and of course…VOLCANOES! I have yet to meet a preschooler who doesn’t love volcanoes.
Keep reading for over 20 earth-themed activities for your preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten students. These ideas include math, literacy, fine motor, gross motor, sensory play, art, and more!
PRESCHOOL EARTH & VOLCANO ACTIVITIES: LITERACY
To start off our Earth unit, we read the coolest book from Amazon called The Ultimate Book of Planet Earth. This book is perfect for preschoolers because it has large colorful pictures and interactive pages.
We were able to use this awesome book to learn about the continents, the layers of the Earth, and volcanoes. Highly recommend! (If you’re doing this theme around Earth Day, here are some more great books you might want use!)
I love starting off every preschool thematic unit with vocabulary cards. These cards allow my little ones to get familiar with the words we’ll be using during the unit. You can use these words in your writing center, as a Write the Room activity, or as a picture match.
Listening for syllables in words is a great way to practice phonological awareness. Instead of using random words, try using your Earth vocabulary words for this activity. You can also have your little one do a play dough smash for each syllable to incorporate a hands-on way to identify syllables.
One of my main goals as a preschool teacher is to help my little ones understand how to blend letter sounds together to create words. CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words are awesome for this because they are words with 3 sounds that follow traditional phonetic patterns. However, sometimes students will use picture clues to decode CVC words instead of only looking at the letters. So this activity is the perfect way for students to focus on JUST the letters to blend the sounds without any picture support.
I love incorporating sorting activities as often as I can with my little ones. This “Freshwater vs. Saltwater” sort is a great way to teach students about different types of animals & where they live. It can also spark some great discussions since some animals can be found in both types of water!
As parents and teachers in the 21st century, we are raising future leaders who are living in a global community. It’s important to help our students understand the different continents on Earth and how they are all unique and contribute to Earth’s overall diversity!
I love incorporating writing trays with my preschoolers any chance I get. Writing can be so boring (and challenging!) for our little ones, but they’re much more likely to enjoy writing when we can make it tactile and engaging. By writing in “volcanic ash” (ground black pepper) or “lava” (dyed salt), your preschoolers will be much more willing to practice their letter and number formation.
Why do kids love spinners so much?! They make any activity more engaging! You can easily make your own spinner with a paper clip & pencil, or you can purchase them like we did. (We bought these clear ones and we LOVE them!) I also like to create hand motions for each landform to help my little ones remember them.
Volcanoes are so fascinating for kids! Use this highly-engaging topic to practice sequencing & cutting skills, and to teach students facts about volcanoes they might not have known before!
This one is super easy and can be modified in lots of ways! We used it to practice letters. Just draw a volcano on a big piece of paper, and then write letters (or numbers or sight words) all around. Then write the corresponding letters (or numbers or sight words) on dot stickers, and have your preschoolers match them up!
PRESCHOOL EARTH & VOLCANO ACTIVITIES: MATH
Number fluency means so much more than just having our little ones count from 1-20. I want my students to be able to pick any number and determine which number comes before/which number comes after that number. This activity gives them the chance to practice this skill, along with one-to-one correspondence and number lines.
I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get in a rut when teaching 2D shapes. I tend to focus on shape identification, but there’s SO much more we should be teaching our preschoolers about shapes. It’s important for them to be able to sort shapes, classify shapes by attributes, and compare shapes to see how they’re alike and how they’re different. This shape activity goes beyond basic identification so students are working on sorting and classifying shapes.
More shape work! My students LOVE playing Bingo, and using our shape cards to play Bingo was a great way to review 2D shapes in a fun way. You can also change the level of difficulty for this game. Start with calling out the name of the shape (cover the triangle), or try calling out attributes (cover the shape with three sides) or letter sounds (cover the shape that begins with the /t/ sound).
Once our little ones know their colors, we want to make sure they can also read those color words. For younger preschoolers, you can give them the color words written in that specific color. But for older preschoolers, you can give them the color words written in black.
More sorting! Preschoolers will sort the landforms into “land” and “water,” and then use that information to create either a bar graph or tally chart (or both!). Helping your preschoolers turn data into a graphical representation is a very complex and advanced skill that will help them build their math foundational skills.
My students LOVE anything that’s hands-on, so they especially loved this hands-on way to practice counting! These play-based activities are much more inviting to our little ones that traditional worksheets, and they allow them to use their imaginations while practicing number identification & one-to-one correspondence.
I love introducing measurement by using nonstandard units of measurement, such as paper clips, pom poms, or play dough balls. This activity is great because students will measure the distance between two landform pictures in a hands-on way, and they can compare the lengths to see which pictures are the furthest apart.
During our discussions about volcanoes and lava, my preschoolers and I also discussed the layers of the Earth. This activity is a great way for them to see the four layers of the Earth, plus they can use it for a hands-on play dough activity (which I talk about below…keep reading to check it out!)
You can use these fun volcano numbers to work on number order (0-20) with your little ones. We used this big pocket chart, but you can use whatever you have available (or tape them to the wall!)
PRESCHOOL EARTH ACTIVITIES: SENSORY & ART
This was my students’ favorite activity during this unit! We created our very own models of the Earth using play dough, and when we sliced them open, we saw a surprise…the 4 layers of the Earth!
You can’t teach a unit on volcanoes and not make your own erupting volcanoes, right?! These were so much fun (and so easy!) Plus the cleanup is a breeze if you take them outside. All you do is mix 4-6 tbsps of baking soda, a tsp of dish soap, and water in a cup. You can also add food coloring if you’d like. Then pour in some vinegar and watch the magic happen!
We love thematic snacks! They’re a great way to encourage little ones to be excited about the theme, plus they are usually super cute. These edible landforms are no exception! Can you name each one?! The volcanoes are my favorites!
Contact paper & tissue paper combine to make this beautiful Earth-themed art project. Tearing the tissue paper is great for fine motor development, and you can talk about the continents and oceans while you’re creating. This is also a perfect project for Earth Day!
You can create the coolest sensory bin for this unit by making cornmeal landforms. Just mix 3 parts cornmeal, 1 part water, and 1 part salt, and then you’ll be able to create landforms. The consistency of this mixture should feel like wet sand. (We also added in cinnamon to turn the mixture brown & make it smell great!) Then we added some blue gems so we could create a lake and some islands. Another alternative for this activity is to use kinetic sand.
You can also create a free-play sensory bin with the cornmeal mixture and scoops. This bin was actually created by my 2nd grade daughter…she thought it would be perfect for my preschool students. She’s so sweet and loves helping me out with activities!
Oh and one more idea…Don’t Touch the Lava! This is such a fun gross motor game, and you can actually incorporate other academic skills into it (like letters or numbers). Have your little one jump from pillow to pillow (or whatever else you set up on the floor) without touching the lava (which is the floor)!
EXTRAORDINARY EARTH FUN
I hope these ideas helped you fill-in your Earth & Volcanoes lesson plans for your preschool classroom or homeschool! All of the printables for this unit can be found in my Extraordinary Earth Preschool Activity Pack.
Do you teach an Extraordinary Earth theme with your preschoolers? Do you have any fun activities that would be great for it? Comment below or find me on Instagram [@littleslovelearningblog] and let me know!