Fill In The Blank Life Cycles – Preschool Science

teaching life cycles Children are natural sorters. They like order and understand steps very early on if we present them in a fun hands on way. Nothing beats seeing a lifecycle in action. I encourage all of you to get a Butterfly Garden ( affiliate link), or find a frog pond where you can visit multiple times to see the changing stages first hand. If you can NOT do either of those this hands on activity is a great alternative and what I love about these life cycle manipulatives is that kids will play with them over and over again. As I type this our frog and tadpoles you see in this post have just been relocated to our swampy sensory table .Of course if you don’t have access to these models or the budget to spend on them you can always hand draw the stages, cut out, color and laminate them. I am often asked if I read then do the activities or the other way around. In this case if you are introducing the life cycles for the first time read the books first and do these fill in the blank life cycles after.

fill in the blank life cycles 1

To create these super simple fill in the blank life cycles you will need some life cycle manipulatives like these ones I got at Michael’s ( or draw your own) , some good quality paper, markers, and a tray or two.

frog life cycle

Trace around each step in the life cycle. If your child is a reader add the stage with a word but if not skip it. I added it at first and my daughter was so intent on sounding it out that when she couldn’t ( chrysalis ) it frustrated her. The shape of the item will be an effective prompt. If you are drawing your own make sure the shapes are distinct after you cut them out. life cycle fill in the blank sheetsMy helper took this picture of me tracing I think it’s the first picture of me prepping an activity in 7 years.butterfly life cycle activity

Add arrows to show the direction of the transformation. I had help with this step.fill in the blank life cycle of frog

Label the life cycle in the middle so your child can identify which mat they need. My daughter can recognize these words so I didn’t include a picture but for a classroom with all different levels I would include a picture of a frog, butterfly, or turtle in the middle and laminate.

Pop the manipulatives on a second tray or in a shallow dish.turtle life cycle activity

Start matching them up. butterfly life cycleIf you are doing this in a free choice setting for a class I’d suggest doing it at circle time first and then either later that day or the next time you meet having it out for individuals to use with their prior knowledge. Don’t forget that you can place as many or as few of the pieces on the sheet to start with to help your child be successful

butterfly life cycles

As she placed the pieces of the life cycles we talked about each of them.

Books About Life Cycles

all book lists contain affiliate links.

very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic, that most preschool teachers like myself can recite from memory. It really is a fantastic book, not only does it explain the life cycle of a butterfly it also is useful for lesson about the days of the week and healthy eating. Children love relating to the caterpillar who eats too many treats and ends up with a belly ache before eating one more healthy leaf and spinning a chrysalis.

fish

Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni is a cute book that not only talks about friendship but it also explains the transformation of a tadpole into a frog in an entertaining way . I have used this book in classrooms while doing animal life cycles and kids always love how the fish in the book imagines humans as fish with legs! The story of friendship between the little tadpole and minnow can’t be ignored either, it’s a great message about change and the way friendships if true can withstand change.from tadpole to frog

From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer is another gem from the “Let’s- Read-And-Find-Out” series. It goes into great detail without offering too much for young readers. When I was reading it to my 2 year old, I skipped some pages, it’s a little long for him still but 3-5 year olds are perfect age for this non fiction book. The illustrations are interesting and kept my wiggly man into the book when the text went above his head.

 

Need a song to help teach about the butterfly life cycle? Try this one! 

Earth Day Crafts and Activities For 3 year olds

Earth Day Crafts For THree Year Olds from No Time For Flash Cards Earth Day might mean a lot to you ( or not ) but it doesn’t mean anything to a three year old until we teach them about it. I explain Earth Day as a special day where we take a few extra minutes or more to think about all the Earth provides and all we can do to protect its beautiful gifts. Older kids can get into the three Rs more deeply but with three year olds we stick to these basic bits of info :

It’s our job to help keep the Earth clean by picking up litter, reusing garbage for other things, and recycling what we can so we don’t have to use up more trees or other things from nature.

From there I let their questions lead my teaching but those very very basic bits of info are my launchpad. This has worked well over the years because the children who are interested and are able to see past their own immediate experience will ask questions and those who aren’t won’t. If we throw too much info at them they will just get overwhelmed.

Here are some awesome ways to celebrate Earth Day with three year olds.

Earth Day Activities For Three Year Olds

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Make Earth Day Muffins

Garden Sensory Tub
Garden Sensory Tub

earth day activity outside
Nature Detectives

recycling game
Recycling or Trash Sorting Game

painting with recycled objects
Paint with Things Out Of The Recycling Bin.

nature color hunt
Nature Color Hunt

earth day dgdhdj
Coffee Grounds Sensory Tub

Earth Day Crafts For Three Year Olds 

earth day craft

Recycled Confetti Earth 

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Earth Day Letter E Craftrp_earth-day-suncatcher-455x640.png
Earth Day Sun Catcher
Newspaper Earth

easy earth day craft for kids
Puffy Paint Earth

DIY Recycled Paper Project
Make Recycled Paper At Home

sun melted recycled crayons 1
Recycled Crayons Using Solar Energy

trash collage rainbow craft for kids
Trash Rainbow

earth day tambourine
Earth Day Tambourine

Recycling Center Activity
Table Top Recycling Center

playdoh earth
Playdough Earths

Heart Shaped Bird Feeder
All Natural Bird Feeder

Earth Day Craft

Coffee Filter Earth Garland 

Earth Day Books
earth day books

pop over to this post ( click here or on the image) to read full reviews of these books all about Earth Day many of which are perfect for three year olds.

How are you going to celebrate Earth Day with your children or students? Tell me all about your plans for Earth Day on No Time For Flash Cards Facebook page! 

Seed Sorting Activity Tray

seed sorting in preschool My class is learning about gardens right now and this week we are focusing on seeds and how they grow into plants. This seed sorting activity tray will be used during free choice and I will be withins arms reach since these seeds can easily be placed places we don’t want them to be like in mouths, nostrils…ears…  I would never introduce an activity that I didn’t think my students could do successfully but children are unpredictable so being close by is always a great idea.

Gather your materials. You will need a divided tray, some seed packets, tweezers, scissors, and tape. You may also want some ziplocs and a sharpie for storing extra seeds.seed tray activity for kids

I chose seeds that would likelybe familiar to my group of 3 year olds. With older children throw in a few less recognizable ones for a challenge. seed matching game for kids

Start by cutting the package carefully on the bottom.  Pop a few seeds in the center section of your tray and put the rest in a labeled bag for later use.seed tray for kids science

Tape the empty seed envelope to the tray. I have regular tape shown in the picture above but I ended up using packing tape. seed matching activity for preschool

For really little guys you will probably want to place one seed of each plant in the proper section as a guide if you can’t introduce the activity yourself. If you can I would ask them if each seed looks like any of the vegetables pictured or of they have ever seen seeds like these before. seed tray for preschoolThen see if they can match them to the pictures. In a free choice scenario where you may be attending to many children in a short amount of time you have a few choices. My favorite is to observe during free choice and then bringing the tray back out later at circle time to talk about the seeds adding to the students previous experience with the seeds during free choice. Then the tray will be brought out for free choice again in the coming days.

tweezing seedsI added tweezers to this activity for some novelty but little fingers are perfectly acceptable too!

seed matching

My daughter tested out my activity before I packed it away into my school bag.

Have you explored seeds with your child or classroom? What is your favorite seed activity? Tell me all about it here in comments or on my Facebook Page. 

Spring Circle Time Lessons with books to match { FREE Printables included! }

circle time lessons for preschool

I LOVE circle time. I get very excited about circle time when I have thought of a great lesson to pair with a lovely book. For my class of 3 year olds we start the year off with very very short circle times. We read short books and have an even shorter matching activity. As the year progresses I read longer books and have longer lessons knowing any day may be the day where all plans must go out the window to meet the needs of the students in my care. Always be flexible – even if you were super excited to share this lesson it’s more important to meet their needs than stick to the plan.

Whenever possible include movement ( even if it’s just getting up and putting a magnet on the board) and don’t shy away from reading the same book multiple times over a short period of time.

This post of spring circle time lessons includes affiliate links

butterfly colors

Book :Butterfly Butterfly: A Book of Colors by Petr Horaeck

Activity : Sorting Bugs With and Without Wings

Activity Set Up :

wings and no wings

  • Print the first page out by clicking on the image and selecting print.
  • Cut the bugs out and laminating. Add magnets or velcro if you want to do this activity on a magnet or felt board.

Lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Talk about all the different bugs in the garden and how some have wings and others do not. Encourage students to share any other observations.
  • Tell your students that you have a bag full of bugs and they need to help you sort them into two groups. Bugs that fly and bugs that do not ask the how you could tell that from a picture?
  • Hand the bugs out to each child. Invite them one and a time to place the bugs on the board or into baskets.
  • After all the children have had their turn count each group.

little gardener

Book: The Little Gardener  by Jan Geradi

Activity : Acting Out How A Seed Grows.

Lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask your students what they think it must feel like to be a flower.
  • Tell then that they get to imagine what it must be like to be a flower and ask then to stand up. Make sure you have space for any student who may need to move a little bigger than their spot at circle.
  • Lead every action. Do not worry if a child is not 100% into it. Just by watching and listening they will be introduced to a plant lifecycle.
  • Start by crouching into a tiny ball saying ” We start as tiny seeds that someone planted in the dirt in their garden.”
  • Say that with sun and water you are beginning to grow. Start wiggling saying ” We are starting to grow roots.”
  • Reach up one arm saying you are starting to sprout.
  • More sun and water makes you grow even taller. Reach your hands to the side saying ” We are growing leaves!”
  • ” Oh no it’s very windy!” sway in the wind.
  • “The sun is back out and our flowers are ready to bloom.”

earthdaybigearth

Book: Big Earth, Little Me by Thom Wiley

Activity : Sorting Planet Earth by Size

How To Set Up The Activity :

earth sort by size

  • Print out the sheet of different sized earths by clicking on the image, saving to your computer, and printing.
  • Laminate and add magnets or velcro if you want to do this activity on a magnet or felt board.

Lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Talk very briefly about how large the earth is and how small we are.
  • Put one earth ( of various sizes) on the board or into a bowl if you are sorting into a bowl. Show your students that you have all different sizes and you need their help to sort them by size.
  • Invite each child to come choose an earth and sort it into the correct bin or space on your board.
  • After every child has had a turn ask them which group has the most. Count each as a group to see if they are correct.

the earth book

Book: The EARTH Book by Todd Parr

Activity : Can I Recycle This? Learning what you can and can’t pop into the recycling bin.

How To Set Up The Activity :

  • Gather different items that you can and can not recycle in your community. If you have food waste in your area include that with a third container. Have more than you think you will need ( more than one per student).
  • Have two containers one with a recycle sign and the other with a garbage can. If your community uses different colors for your garbage and recycling use the same color containers for this activity. We want this to be a practical lesson as well as a problem solving one. You will also want a bag to hold the items before the children sort them.

Lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Tell your students that you need help. You have a whole bunch of garbage in your bag but aren’t sure what you can and can’t put into the recycling bin.
  • As a group start sorting. Ask the children if each item can be recycled or put in the garbage. If your children are into it keep going until you have no more items. If not choose a few of the most common items like water bottles, aluminum cans and newspaper and sort them into recycling and some common non recyclables like bottle tops and sandwich bags.

 

bugs bugs bugs

Book: Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner

How To Set Up The Activity :

  • Gather some plastic bugs in 3-4 different colors or use the printable from above print out and laminate each bug.
  • Pop them in a butterfly net like this or a bug house. A little novelty goes FAR!
  • Gather bowls in the same color as the bugs. We have these bowls at school and I use them daily!

Lesson :

  • Read the book.
  • Tell the students that you have caught a bunch of different color bugs but you need to put them into these bowls.
  • Invite the children to come reach into the net or bug house and sort the bug into the correct bowl.
  •  In groups where sitting for longer periods are OK you can go by each child and ask them to take two different colored bugs to place in the bowls.
  • If your group can stay seated long enough to count each group of bugs together then please do.

 

i love bugs

Book : I Love Bugs! by Phileomon Sturges

Activity : Matching Butterfly Wings – matching patterns and colors.

How To Set Up The Activity:

butterfly match

  • Print out the Butterfly Match sheet by clicking on the image and saving it to your computer then printing.
  • Laminate, cut the butterflies out, then cut down the middle.Add magnets or velcro if you want to do this activity on a magnet or felt board.

Lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask each child what their favorite bug is.
  • Tell them you like many bugs but butterflies are one of your favorites. ( If this isn’t true say something that is but seriously who doesn’t LOVE butterflies??)
  • Have one half of each butterfly on a board or lay them out in the circle. If you choose to lay them out you may want a tray or a solid color piece of fabric so the patterns and colors pop out for the students.
  • If this is a new concept for your class do 3-5 butterflies together as a group. Hold the wing up to a few butterflies that aren’t a match and ask the group if it’s a match. Don’t aim to trick anyone but let them feel like they are teaching you from time to time.
  • If you are teaching master matchers hand one wing to each student and have them find the correct match. As they do label colors and sizes from time to time saying things like ” Wow Bobby you found the match for that bright pink butterfly!” or ” Suzie your butterfly is really large!”

eating the alphabet

Book: Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert

Activity : Making Fruit Salad

How To Set Up The Activity:

  • I like doing this activity at a table but it’s not a must.
  • Any fruit can be used . I like to use apple, pear, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, grapes, pineapple, and mandarin oranges. You will also need small bowls for each and one large salad bowl.
  • You will want some whole fruit to examine like a pineapple, apple, mandarine orange, and kiwi.
  • Have one serving of each fruit already chopped( during free choice have the children help you do some chopping).

Lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask each child which fruit or vegetable is their favorite.
  • Pass around the whole fruit you have and talk about how the fruit feels and smells.
  • Remind the children about the chopping they did earlier. Explain that they will now make a salad with the fruit.
  • Invite each child to come pour one bowl of chopped fruit into the bowl.
  • Serve and enjoy.

planting-a-rainbow

Book:Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert

Activity : Color Matching Flowers and Stems

How To Set The Activity Up:

planting a rainbow

  • Print out this printable by clicking the image, saving to your computer, then printing.
  • Laminate the flowers and stems then cut out.Add magnets or velcro if you want to do this activity on a magnet or felt board.
  • Have the stems on the board before you read the book.

Lesson:

  • Read the book.
  • Ask the children what their favorite color is. Ask if they would like to help you plan a rainbow flower garden too!
  • Show the class the stems on the board and explain that you have the flowers in your basket. You need their help matching them.
  • Invite each child up to the board to choose a color and add it to the stem.
  • Once the garden is complete count to see how many flowers in total are in it.

 

Do you have a favorite spring lesson or activity for your class? Besides circle times like these my class will be cutting flowers, beading with bug beads, making bug prints in play dough and SO much more. April is going to be a blast!

 

LEGO Game – Roll, Build, and Create!

DIY LEGO game for kids LEGO is huge at our house. Even if some of their marketing to girls efforts miss the mark ( did you read this?), the toy is still amazing for boys and girls. LEGO is creative as well as great for spatial and fine motor skills. This LEGO game is super simple and my kids play it often building on to their creations or making new ones. What I love about this game that wasn’t really part of the design was that it’s a great way to kickstart LEGO creations. When kids feel like building but don’t know what to build this game acts as kindling and helps start the fire for bigger ideas. Of course players are also working on subitizing skills ( recognizing amounts without counting – on dominoes, dice, tally marks etc…)  and number recognition. If that is your goal you could use multiple dice for older children and have the add or subtract and match up the sum or difference to the numbered sections. It’s so versatile!

Gather your materials. You will need some LEGO or DUPLO , a divided tray or individual bowls, a die, and a permanent marker.

lego game for kids

Write the numbers 1-6 on the divided tray. Don’t worry you can use a dry erase marker to remove the permanent marker when you are done playing. boost creativity with lego

Fill the sections of your tray with different types of LEGO bricks. You can have your children help you sort them as well. Sorting is an important skill so any time you have to practice is worthwhile. I included a lot of mini figures because in my experience kids tend to create more stories with the figures and my daughter loves to make stories with her LEGO.

lego game for children

Once they are all sorted it’s time to play. Use the center section to roll the die and whatever number they roll is the type of brick they get to build with. lego game for preschool

She was into it immediately.lego games for kids Soon she had an audience and hearing her explain the game to her dad was awesome. lego game for families Understanding multiple steps is important and when she taught her dad she had all the steps down pat! LEGO roll and build math game

One of the great things about this activity is that there is no strict ending point. Kids can stop when they feel their creation is complete or pop it to the side and come back another day. Ours is STILL in our sunroom two weeks after getting it out. I find both my kids playing with it most days.