Creating a volcano in Pre-K or a preschool classroom is fun and entertaining for the children. The learning objectives relate more to the process of making the volcano than the actual science and chemistry involved. Preschool children can learn valuable lessons in teamwork and problem solving. Additionally, children will learn basic concepts in observation and discovery, math and science, and language and vocabulary. The objectives at the preschool level should be fun and entertaining, while keeping it at an age-appropriate level.
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Team Work and Problem Solving
Have the children work together in small groups to create a group volcano rather than creating individual projects. The children learn skills in sharing the materials, cooperating with and helping each other to complete the project and work together to overcome challenges. They learn problem-solving skills through negotiation and compromise as they settle differences that may arise. Leadership roles begin to develop as the children work together and problem solve throughout the project.
Observation and Discovery
Children are naturally curious and inquisitive as they explore new things. Preschoolers should ask questions and actively engage in discussions as they explore why and how the volcano erupts, even if their observations are not scientifically accurate. Have the children use their observations to record, share and compare the data they collected with their peers. At this age, they begin using graphs, charts and drawings to express their observations.
Geography and Scientific Knowledge
Preschool children learn to describe and identify different landscapes and recognise changes that occur in nature. They explore the cause and effect relationship and begin to understand why changes occur. Use the volcano in addition to other landscapes such as hills and bodies of water. Children should be able to identify and describe the different characteristics and similarities. Also, have the children make predictions before and during the process and compare the predictions with their observations afterwards.
Language and Vocabulary
Include several opportunities for language and vocabulary expansion throughout the volcano project. Introduce new vocabulary words such as volcano, magma, lava, molten rock, crater, ash and eruption. The children also learn terms such as chemical reaction, flow, observation, geography and active. Use every opportunity possible to expand the children's vocabulary. Have the children retell the volcano-making process, eruption and observations in sequence and with as much detail as possible. They should also be able to express their observations through drawings and other mediums. Add the new vocabulary words to a word board easily accessible to the children and review the words on a regular basis.
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