Did you know that astronauts eat a lot of tortillas in space? I didn’t either until I did a little reading about eating in space for this circle time lesson about space. My students loved this topic, and the lesson, and they learned so much that I wanted to share it with you to use in your students. This post looks inside my PreK classroom and how I use activities in both group time and free choice to build understanding and engagement with the content. Read through to see the whole preschool lesson plan about space with multiple space activities for preschool and how you can use them in your classroom.
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Space Themed Preschool Circle Time
My group lessons always start with a good morning song followed by our question of the day. Our class puppet Quinn asks the question, and that is our launching pad for learning. For this space themed esson, the question is, “How do astronauts eat in space?” I will allow my students to share their ideas if they have any, then we move to the whiteboard. Here I will usually ask for background knowledge. Saying: “Wait, wait before we can find out the answer to Quinn’s question, let’s see what we already know about space.” Then we share what we know. I have incorporated this into my Prek lessons for a few reasons; to connect to prior knowledge and they genuinely find out what they know, work intentionally on vocabulary words, and demonstrate the connection between their spoken words and the written words I am writing adding to the board. All essential foundational literacy skills preschool teachers should be incorporating into circle time activities.
After this step, I share some resource that helps me answer the question. Often I use a book, but for this preschool lesson plan, I found photos of astronauts eating in space! Click here to see the source. I showed my students the pictures of astronauts eating tortillas and food from a pouch with a straw and asked them why they think they eat like that? This is where you connect to your students’ prior knowledge. My students mentioned the lack of gravity ( which is key for this lesson, so if they don’t say it, you need to), and I asked them if space having zero gravity might change how the astronauts eat. I asked:
” If applesauce was in a bowl in space, would it stay in the bowl with no gravity?”
This was all they needed to jump on to understanding the need for pouches and straws.
“It would fly all over in globs!”
“It would be very messy.” they suggested.
I replied “Yes, the pouch and straw help keep food from floating all over so the astronauts can eat it. Now, what about the tortillas? Why are those good to eat in space?” This was trickier and rightfully so. So to help get them to the answer, I asked, ” What happens when you eat toast or crunchy bread? What gets all over?”They all replied with “Crumbs!”
“Yes, but when you eat a tortilla, do you get crumbs?” They all shook their heads. ” I found out that tortillas are used instead of bread or crackers because they don’t make lots of crumbs. Wait, why are crumbs a bad thing in space? ” This is where they blew me away, multiple kiddos answered with, ” Because they would float all over and make a mess!”
Now it’s time to eat like an astronaut!
Turn this circle time lesson about space into a hands-on lesson!
In pre-covid times I would have handed out applesauce pouches, straws, and tortillas during the lesson. However, we are masked and only eat outside. So we got ready for snack and went outside for this next part of the lesson. The children were each given a pouch of applesauce with a straw and a piece of tortilla. As they ate, we talked about how it feels to eat with a straw and how tortillas really don’t make crumbs. We also thought about other foods that would and wouldn’t be good to eat-in space. Adding actually trying these foods make this lesson much more meaningful.
Later in the day, we had another short circle time lesson about space. We revisited our question of the day by graphing whether we liked or didn’t like eating like an astronaut. Simple graphs like this are a great introduction to organizing data and information, and it is also an excellent way to reinforce name recognition. After all the names are added, I ask which has more, yes or no. Then we count to make sure, and I’ll say something like, ” 7 is more than 5. More people liked eating like an astronaut than did not.” Educational activities like this preschool lesson plan about space make being a PreK teacher so much fun!
More Space Activities for Preschool
Space Letter Beads – Search for the letter and add it to the sparkly pipe cleaner. Preschool activities like this are great ways to work on skills with popular preschool themes without resorting to worksheets. Children will often be working on math skills like patterning and counting while doing early literacy learning activities like this.
Moon Sand ( shaving cream & corn starch) – a wonderful sensory and pretend play idea. A must for every early childhood education class in my opinion!
Rocket Pretend Play.
This rocket is one of the student’s favorite dramatic play areas all year long. Add in a few calculators or an old keyboard and you get some letter and number recognition thrown in for good measure!
Letter Matching with Colors – Match the color to get familiar with letters. I like to play with my students, narrating what I have found. “I found a blue lowercase b.” Using colorful letter magnets is vital. This can be done on a vertical surface or on magnetic trays in one of your learning centers.
Lego Space Station Building
All children need sometimes is a prompt and simply saying can you build a rocket or a space station is enough to unleash our little learners’ creativity. As you know Lego is wonderful for developing our students’ fine motor skills, and it’s fun!
Need even more ideas for learning about space at preschool?
Books About Space For Preschool
Find several fantastic books about space for preschool on this space booklist for preschool. Click the image or here for the space booklist.