The first concept of time that preschool-aged children understand is night and day, as they can easily see the difference between the two and know that different things happen during these times. Allow preschool children to gain a more in-depth understanding of day and night by presenting them with activities that allow them to explore these concepts of time.
Day and Night Sky
Have a discussion with children about the difference between the day and night sky. Talk about the things they see in the sky when the sun is up and the things they see in the sky when the sun sets. For example, the sun and clouds are in the sky during the day, and the moon and stars are out at night. Provide children with paper and art supplies and instruct them to create a picture of the daytime sky on one half of the paper and the nighttime sky on the other half.
Turn your class into a nighttime sky observatory. Hang glow-in-the-dark stars, planets and other celestial images on the ceiling and wall of the classroom. Invite children to lie on the floor, turn off the lights and allow them to gaze up at the recreated night sky. Discuss the different things they see. Talk about why these celestial images are important. Ask children if they've ever seen a real shooting star or looked up at the real night sky. This activity will instil wonder and awe into the children, sparking their curiosity to explore the real night sky.
Day and Night Art
Have students create pictures that illustrate things they do during the day and things they do during the night. Provide children with a large piece of artist paper and draw a line down the centre of it. Set out markers, crayons, paint and other art materials. Instruct children to draw a daytime picture on one side of the paper and a nighttime picture on the other side. After children have completed their artwork, invite them to share it with the class, explaining what their pictures depict.
Day or Night?
Provide each child with images of the sun and moon. State a variety of different daytime and nighttime activities, such as eating breakfast, going to school, taking a bath and going to sleep, for example. Upon stating each of the activities, children hold up a sun or a moon to indicate when each activity normally occurs. For instance, they would hold up the image of the sun when you say eating breakfast.