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The Air Up There

In this unit designed for kindergarten classrooms, students participate in activities exploring air and wind.

These activities are part of Science World’s Big Science For Little Hands program. They were developed and tested with preschool and kindergarten educators.

The Air Up There Printable guide.

Objectives

  • Use their five senses to make observations.

  • Understand how air moves objects around.

  • Understand some behaviours of the air around us.

  • Understand how objects take flight.

Materials

  • see individual activities for materials.

Background

Here is how a selection of these activities could become a week-long unit of study in a kindergarten classroom.

  • Day 1:
    • Whole group lesson: Discuss moving air, or wind. Provide each student with a piece of paper. How can we make air move with just the piece of paper? Then give each student an accordion-folded paper fan. What do you feel when you move the paper fan? Can you make the air move faster? Can you make your hair move? Discuss other ways that we can make air move.
    • Whole group activity: Blown Away! Moving Air
  • Day 2:
    • Whole group lesson: Discuss balloons. What fills them up? Why do you think they float? Our Balloon Boarding demonstration is a fun display of the surprising strength of balloons.
    • Whole group activity: Balloon Rockets (You may wish to explore NASA Kids’ Club’s interactive Rocket Builder activity as a fun introduction to rockets).

*Although our Balloon Rockets activity is designed for older students, it can be enjoyed by kindergarteners as well. It can be kept as a demonstration, or each student can launch their own “rocket” in pairs or groups, with an adult helper, if possible. The trickiest part will be blowing up the balloons and holding them shut while transferring them to the straw and string. Decide what’s best for your group of students. With a larger class, it may be more feasible to demonstrate the Balloon Rocket (perhaps a few times, or have two “race” each other) and then explore the Rocket Builder activity in separate stations or all together.

  • Day 3
    • Whole group lesson: Parachute demonstration. Make a mini-parachute (Parachute Design and Drop) or purchase one (available at most dollar stores as well as Kaleidoscope, our science store). You may choose to also demonstrate dropping the weight you use, but without a parachute. Compare the results: why did one drop faster and the other one slower? Discuss with your students how they think the parachute works.
    • Whole group activity: Make Your Own Parachute
  • Day 4
    • Whole group lesson: Discuss airplanes. Look at a non-fiction book about airplanes and their different parts (Dorling Kindersley provides four good options; see Other Resources). It would also be a good idea to see if there is someone in your community who can visit to talk about airplanes, or, if feasible, take a field trip to the airport.
    • Station ideas: Hoopsters, Paper Helicopters
  • Day 5:
    • Whole group lesson: Discuss how things move through the air. You may wish to repeat the Blown Away! Moving Air activity from Day 1 as a re-cap.
    • Station ideas: Flipping Figures, Windsock
      (although the key questions and extensions in the windsock activity are designed for older students, the activity itself can be done with kindergarteners)
    • Teacher-conducted assessment

Vocabulary

Definitions for kindergarteners:

air – The invisible stuff in the sky and all around us that we breathe.

wind – Fast-moving air. We can feel wind and see how it moves things around us.

force – Any action that makes things move, i.e. throwing, pushing, kicking, blowing, etc.

gas – A special type of air; the air is a mixture of different gases. Helium is a gas that makes balloons rise (and makes your voice sound funny!).

tornado – A “tower” of wind that spins around very fast in a circle. A tornado is a type of storm that usually comes from a hurricane.

hurricane – A large windstorm that usually lasts longer than the tornadoes it can form.

gravity – The force of Earth pulling us and other things to the ground. It’s what keeps us on the ground and what makes things drop.

water vapour – Water that has turned into air.

weather vane – A tool people use to tell which way the wind is blowing.

Other Resources

Websites:

Parenting Science | Preschool Science Activities | How to nurture your child’s interest in the natural world, Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.

How Stuff Works | Aviation Activities for Kids | String Rocket Races

Science Bob | Experiments | Make a Balloon Rocket

BC Kites | Contact Us

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | How Things Fly | Forces of Flight

First School: Preschool Activities & Crafts | Aviation | Letter ‘A’ Airplane Online Jigsaw Puzzle

How Stuff Works | Aviation Activities for Kids | Stable Airplane Mobile

How Stuff Works | Aviation Activities for Kids | Up, Up, and Away Rally

Science Kids NZ | Space Videos | Space Shuttle Launch

Literature

For children:

The Three Little Pigs
I Face the WindVicki Cobb
Air: Outside, Inside, and All AroundDarlene R. Stille
Let’s Try it Out: In the AirSeymour Simon & Nicole Fauteux
Bear Facts #5: AirDavid Bennett
Bookworms, Earth Matters: AirDana Meachen Rau
Millicent and the WindRobert Munsch
The Wind BlewPat Hutchins
Feel the WindArthur Dorros
Gilberto and the WindMarie Ets
Mirandy and Brother WindPatricia McKissack
The Emperor and the KiteJane Yolen
Angela’s AirplaneRobert Munsch
Air and SpaceCorkey Hay DeSimone
How Does it Fly? Hot Air BalloonNancy Robinson Masters
Air and Flight (It’s Science!)Sally Hewitt
If You Decide to Go to the MoonFaith McNulty
Amelia EarhartJane Sutcliffe
Curious George Flies a KiteMargret & H.A. Rey
Curious George and the Hot Air BalloonMargret & H.A. Rey
Kite Riders! (Team Umizoomi)Jason Fruchter
The Berenstein Bears: We Like KitesStan & Jan Berenstein
A is for Airplane: An Aviation AlphabetMary Ann McCabe Riehle
DinosoaringDeb Lund
My First Adventures: My First Trip on an AirplaneKatie Kawa
Buzz Beaker and the Outer Space TripCari Meister
Time Goes By: A Day at an AirportSarah Harrison
First Look at AircraftLaura Gates Galvin
Violet the PilotSteve Breen
The World’s Greatest Paper Airplane and Toy BookKeith Laux
Amazing AirplanesTony Mitton & Ant Parker
Choppers!Susan E. Goodman
Richard Scarry’s A Day at the AirportRichard Scarry
Machines at Work: Airplane, Big Book of Airplanes, Eyewitness: FlightDorling Kindersley Publishing

For educators:

Science Play!: Beginning Discoveries for 2-to 6-Year-OldsJil Frankel Hauser
A Head Start on Science: Encouraging a Sense of Wonder (89 Activities for Children Ages 3-7)William C. Ritz
The Preschool ScientistRobert E. Rockwell et al.