Introducing kindergarten students to day and night typically involves providing students to explore the difference between daytime and nighttime and discussing the reasons it is sunny during the day and dark at night in simple terms. As part of this teaching unit, schedule a trip to a local planetarium to provide students with more information about day and night.
Day and Night Sky
Ask your students to share their thoughts on how the sky looks different during the daytime and nighttime. Discuss how the Sun is seen during the day, as well as clouds and a typically blue sky and how, at night, the Moon and stars are often seen and the sky looks black. Give students the chance to create their own night and day sky by giving them two sheets of construction paper, blue for the day sky and black for the night sky, and having them illustrate each paper to reflect the daytime and nighttime sky.
Day and Night Activities
Explain to your class that there are different activities you do during the day and at night to help them differentiate between the two. Discuss how you go to school during the day and go to bed at night and allow students to share their own ideas. Talk about how students know it is daytime or nighttime by looking at the sky. Provide students with the opportunity to write or draw about an activity they only do during the day and one they only do at night. Once the class has completed their work, invite students to share their activities.
Introduce students to the concept of the Earth's rotation through experimentation and giving them the chance to act as the Earth. Turn off your classroom lights and turn on a flashlight to use as the sun, pointing it toward your class. Explain to students that their face is where they live and that it is daytime where they live because they can see the Sun. Ask students how they can make it nighttime by not turning off the flashlight. After students have discovered they must turn around, discuss how the Earth rotates just like they did, making it day or night.
Sun and Moon Journal
Have students keep a Sun and Moon journal to track how the Sun changes position throughout the day and how the Moon looks different throughout the month. Keep your Sun journal at school and have students track the Sun's moving position through shadow length and direct observation. Allow students to take their Moon journal home and encourage them to draw what the Moon looks like each night before bed. After a full Moon cycle, ask students to bring their journals back to school and discuss the difference between the Sun and Moon journals, and your students' discoveries.