Teaching preschoolers about things that fly is a great opportunity to teach some really in-depth science concepts. Download the free STEM preschool lesson plans at the end of this post which are all centered around the Things That Fly preschool theme!
STEM Preschool Lesson Plans: Things That Fly
STEM nights are an increasingly popular family night that many elementary schools now host. These STEM nights are becoming more popular in preschools now, too.
But have you ever tried a STEM week in preschool? Just imagine: an entire week of STEM related activities! That’s what you’re going to get in these free STEM preschool lesson plans…an entire week’s worth of activities all centered around “Things That Fly.”
FAQ About Teaching Preschoolers About Flight
These lesson plans will take into account all “flying” things your preschooler might see in the sky, from airplanes and rocket ships to birds and even balloons.
Here are some commonly asked questions about flight to help you teach your preschoolers about how some things fly and others don’t.
There are lots of things that can fly. Animals like bats and birds fly, and so do many insects like fireflies, grasshoppers, and ladybugs. Human inventions like airplanes and zeppelins, spaceships and helicopters also fly. Even things like gliders and hot air balloons fly to a certain extent.
Birds are built to be very light for their size. They have hallow bones filled with pockets of air; beaks instead of teeth and a nose; and a large, strong breastbone that allows for really strong muscles in the chest.
Birds fly by counteracting the downforce of gravity with an upward force called lift. They create lift by moving their wings through the air in a specific manner, with the front part of the wing slightly higher than the back. This changes how the air around the wings moves, thus causing lift. [source]
Hands-on STEM Activities About Flight
Ever met a preschooler who doesn’t like a paper airplane? How about a preschooler who doesn’t like balloons? Rocket ships? Use these STEM preschool lesson plans to teach your preschoolers all about how these things (and more) are able to fly!
Literacy Activities for a Things That Fly Theme
Balloon Pop! – Write letters on various balloons. Inflate the balloons slightly and hide them around the house, then call out a letter and have your preschooler go on a hunt to find it. Once located, invite your preschooler to sit on the balloon and try to pop it or poke a hole in it and let out all the air. Keep searching for letter balloons!
Paper Helicopters – Use this template to create letter helicopters! Print out a few of the templates, cut, and assemble. Write a letter somewhere on the helicopter in small print, then head outside and release them!
Invite your preschooler to launch the helicopters and then find the helicopter with the letter you call out. If you have a two-story space such as a play fort, invite one person to launch them off the top and the person on the ground to catch it and call out the letter. This game can be played with numbers, colors, and shapes, too!
Don’t Forget Picture Books About Flight
Here are some of the best picture books about things that fly.
Math and Science Activities for a Things That Fly Theme
Kite Counting – Cut out kite shapes and glue on a pipe cleaner for the tail. Write a number 1-10 on each kite, then add beads to the pipe cleaner to match the number. This is a really simple activity that can be done again and again, and it works on fine motor skills, too!
Rocket Shapes – Gather construction paper in various colors and cut out shapes. Invite your preschooler to build a rocket using all the shapes, or print this template and have your preschooler help assemble it. This is a fun activity to do with the whole family. Be sure to hang your rocket ships up around the house!
Life Cycle of a Butterfly – Learn all about how the butterfly changes into a caterpillar. Read (or watch the video below) The Very Hungry Caterpillar and complete this simple life cycle activity printable. Then head outside and look for butterflies!
Playful Learning Activities for a Things That Fly Theme
Butterfly Process Art – Draw a large butterfly on a piece of art or butcher paper. Invite your preschooler to tear pieces of colored tissue paper and add it to the butterfly’s body. This is a big project that is most fun when shared with siblings or classmates.
If it’s too much to handle all at once, stop and come back to work on it later.
The Floor is Lava – Encourage your preschooler to get creative with this classic anti-boredom game. The rules are simple: the floor is lava, so they need to find ways to get around without touching the ground! Played inside or out, this game is sure to get the wiggles out!
Rocket Ship Pretend Play – Get a large box and use crayons and markers to make it into a rocket ship. Have an adult cut out a hold for a window, and don’t forget to draw buttons and knobs on the dashboard. Then pretend to be an astronaut and blast off into space!
Social-Emotional Activities for a Things That Fly Theme
Random Act of Kindness – Design an extra kite, helicopter, or paper airplane for a friend or neighbor and invite them to join in and play together. Encourage your preschooler to show good manners by asking how their friend is, allowing them a turn to go first, giving them a high-five, and giving them a compliment. These skills might seem small but they are setting up your preschooler to note how others feel and being purposeful in showing kindness.
Self- Regulation – We might not be able to ”fly,” but we can move our bodies in any way we like! Preschoolers benefit greatly from gross motor movement so why not make it into a game that also teaches strategies to help regulate their wiggles and the need to be active?
Set a timer for 45 seconds and teach your preschooler each of these animal movements. Complete each animal movement for 45 seconds, then move onto the next. Hop like a frog, jump like a bunny, soar like an eagle, flap like a flamingo. Invite your preschooler to come up with even more movements to help regulate their busy selves!
Just Plain Fun Activities for a Things That Fly Theme
DIY Fly Mask – Make a fly mask using just paint and crayons! This is just too cute and pairs so well with the ever popular Fly Guy books.
Butterfly Squish Paintings – Squirt some paint on a piece of paper and fold it in half. Allow the paint to dry and then trace around the paint with a marker. Add a body and antenna to make a butterfly. If you make a small-ish version of these, you can cut them out and glue them onto craft sticks to make puppets.
Build a Kite – Create your own simple kite. Using paper, string, and a stapler, you can create this kite in under 2 minutes. Check out this video for details.
Straw Glider – A straw glider uses paper and straw to float through the air. Setup is a breeze and it’s a fun outside toy! Check out this video for setup instructions.
Safe Online Activities for a Things That Fly Theme
Online Story -– Go to YouTube and listen to the book Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitten and Ant Parker. After listening to this story, invite your preschooler to share if they would like to fly on a plane. Do they have any questions about airplanes? Make a paper airplane together and test it out!
Flap Your Wings Song – This cute song is great for learning how baby birds learn to fly when they are ready to leave the nest.
Zoom, Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon Song – Count backward from 10 and celebrate blast-off! This song has a fun beat and adorable characters.
Get Your Free Preschool STEM Activities Here
Think your preschooler will enjoy all these activities about flight? You can download your own copy of the activities by clicking the image below.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.