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Preschool Science: Studying Water Creatures

We’ve been using Alpha Omega’s Horizons Preschool curriculum, and this past several days we have been learning about day 5 of creation, wherein God made the creatures of the sea and the birds.  Using water creatures as a theme, we’ve learned quite a bit of science in the process!  Here are some of the things we have been doing.


First and most obvious water creature is fish!  We learned about the different types of fish and checked out some books we had on hand with good fish pictures.

My son fell in love with this book, National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes, Whales and Dolphins.  He carries it around and loves to look at the pages with sharks and whales.  Catfish are a big hit also.

Fish book

This book, The Sportsman’s Guide to Game Fish, is an old 1968 edition we have in the book shelf.  A good one, but not as big a hit as the Audobon book, which he has been poring through for days and days, studying each fish and their characteristics.  Fish book

On days when the weather is warm, the kids get to go fishing.  Great chance to look at fish up close and in person, then discuss what fish need to live, how they breathe, the parts of the fish (gills, fins, mouth, eyes, tail, scales), and release them back into the pond.  That is, it would be if they were able to catch one, which is hit or miss.  But it’s a great outdoor activity regardless!

My kids got a great kick out of pretending to go on a fishing trip in the great room.  We gathered our imaginary bucket, fishing pole, bait, lunchbox, and went to the pond.  We declared the floor transition at the foyer to be the pond entrance, and then we declared the adjacent carpet transition to be the ocean.  My preschooler practiced casting alternately into the pond for trout and catfish and then into the ocean, where he reportedly caught a whale.  It took some visible effort to haul that one in!  My 2 year old kept running out into the water and pretending to swim.  We finished our fishing excursion with an indoor picnic lunch next to the pond.  Yes, we ate lunch on the floor!

We chose this study as a good time to purchase a fish tank for the boys.  More on that in a future post on Everyday Science: Fish and What they Need to Live, which could also be titled How Not to Start an Aquarium.  In any case, after buying a second round of fish, we were able to make a scientific drawing of the fish in the tank.

Fish Drawing

This page is from My First Science Notebook, which is intended for K-3 to teach the skills of science: Drawing, Recording, Measuring, and Observing.  Even though we are pre-K, it is still an excellent opportunity to introduce these skills, sort of a science lab for preschool.  I use the eBook version of My First Science Notebook, because it allows me to print the pages I need as we go.

Our fish tank drawing identifies the parts of the fish that we learned, and introduces the word “environment” to label his plants and rocks that he drew.


We discussed what crustaceans were, and got a close up look of crab legs.  He was not sure at first, but then spent half an hour interacting with the claws and pretending to make the crab walk.  Short of being in a place where we could catch some crabs, this is the best we can do!

(The crabs tasted good, too!)

crab legs


We discussed frogs as well, and described what makes them unique.  We practiced hopping around the floor and catching insects with our tongues.  We read this one of Aesop’s Fables:

The Ox and the Frog, an Aesop’s Fable

And we learned about the life cycle of a frog with this video from YouTube.


That image at the end was really fast, here it is again:

Life cycle of a frogVisual Dictionary – copyright © 2005-2009 – All rights reserved.
Life cycle of a frog

If you have a pond nearby, you could go locate frogs in the various parts of their life cycle.  Otherwise, you can act out the different stages by pretending to be sequentially eggs, tadpoles, then turn into frogs.

Moving on

In other, non-science study with Horizons, we have been practicing the beginnings of phonics, reading a clock, memorizing Scripture, learning basic addition, practicing coloring and cutting and gluing, and doing gross motor skills.  All in all its been a pretty good curriculum for us.  We skip some parts, and we do school only a few days a week, gearing up for year-round schooling.

I feel like year-round schooling will offer flexibility for us, so we can take days off mid-week when we need to head to the mountains and get some hiking in, or when we’re busy with swim lessons, summer projects, etc.  Do you have thoughts on that?  I’m curious to hear reasons for schooling year round. I already know my little preschooler does better when he is required to sit down and “do school” on a regular basis, so I know we’d be backtracking if we took a summer completely off.

If you want to read more preschool ideas, be sure to head over to The Preschool Corner linkup this week!

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Preschool Science: The Solar System

This week we are preparing to do a CRAFT. We’ve been steadily working our way through the 4th day of creation with Alpha Omega Horizons preschool. We kept skipping over this big craft project about painting foam balls and making the solar system, well, this next week, we are going to do the big project.

The Horizons recommendation is to buy the different sized individual foam balls, then suspend them with string and thumbtacks. As I sat pondering the strange and unfamiliar objects in the craft aisle at Hobby Lobby, I located the foam ball section and was contemplating those.

I try to be a good steward of our cash, and I coupon, so when I noticed the foam balls were not on sale, and began to tally up the cost of the solar system, I observed that it would cost somewhere around $30. This seemed steep. I wandered over to a more comfortable aisle, the pre-made kit aisle, and found this:

And it was only $8.99, which turned into $5.40 after my 40% off coupon, which I always carry from the weekly flyer for just such an occasion.

So now we have a much better craft alternative for the non-crafty. Just make the kit! I can handle it.

This past week I learned two new things about the solar system.

First, a 4-year old can learn the word orbit and demonstrate it by orbiting around things, even spinning simultaneously. A 2-year old, on observing the orbiting, will very loudly volunteer to be the moon, spin around aimlessly, not orbiting anything, and run headlong into something solid, resulting in a crying school day interruption.

Second, I learned that Pluto is no longer a planet. It used to be a planet when I was in school, however it isn’t any longer. With the advent of better telescopes and astronomical observation in general, they have been able to discover a whole mess of other objects moving the same way as Pluto. They are called Trans Neptunian Obejcts (TNOs) and they exist in a band called the Kuiper Belt, at the farthest edge of the Solar System. They even found one TNO larger and more massive than Pluto, which begged the question, “Is Pluto a planet? Or just a TNO in the Kuiper Belt?”.

They had a big meeting, and a bunch of astronomers voted on it, and they said it is now a dwarf planet. For the full story, check here, where I also learned the three criteria to be a planet:

  • It should orbit the Sun.
  • It should have enough gravity to be spherical
  • It needs to be the largest gravitational force in its “neighborhood”, so either consuming or deflecting objects it encounters.

It is the third criterion that Pluto fails, and thus, it is now a dwarf planet. It’s in the Solar System kit I bought, so we might add it in or skip it altogether.

Did you know about the Pluto thing?  Have any other good preschool craft ideas on the Solar System?  Drop a comment and tell us about it!

For more fun and interesting preschool topics, be sure to head over to The Preschool Corner!

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Preschool Science: The Moon

This week, we discussed the phases of the moon while using Alpha Omega Horizons preschool.  We are still working on Day 4 of creation.  We had been discussing the sun, and now we are on to the second great light to govern the night.

A YouTube video was helpful in illustrating the moon phases.  Certainly more helpful than acting out the sun, moon, and earth in their rotation around each other.  Of course, this might be because I enlisted the help of my 2-year old who was supposed to be the sun.  But the sun quickly arced off, spinning, to collide with the wall, the couch, and the dog.  Then the sun ran into one wall unintentionally and came crying back over to the moon (me) and the illustration just really didn’t go like I’d hoped.  So we found the youtube video:

Once we had finished watching the video, we did the Lunar Cycle game found at On printing the worksheet, we will be able to record the phases of the moon each day, either in late afternoon or early morning.

We also took advantage of some of the printed words on the youtube video to learn to sight read “waxing” and “waning” and we sounded out “moon”.

We haven’t tried these activities, but they look perfect for preschool, from PBS Kids lesson plans.  Click this link for a few “Day and Night” activities.

What tools have you used to study the moon? Leave a comment and share some with us!

For more fun and interesting preschool topics, be sure to head over to The Preschool Corner!