You might think you have a little pilot on your hands because every time a plane flies overhead, he can’t take his eyes off it. He loves the look and the sound. The large metallic machine intrigues most children. Your preschool child tunes in when he is interested, and an airplane theme provides a basis for activities that will develop his skill in math, language, science and creative arts.
Sorting is a math activity that most preschoolers enjoy. Buy a variety of plastic planes at a dollar store. and ensure they are safe for children. Give your child airplanes with limited attributes: large and small or red, yellow and blue. Let him decide how he wants to sort them so the activity is meaningful. Set out airplanes in a variety of sizes. Your child can arrange them from smallest to largest. He can count the planes: the number of blue and the number of red planes, for example, and tell you which group is larger.
Lots of colorful books in libraries and bookstores are about airports and airplanes. Read several to your child and talk about vocabulary words such as runway, flight attendant and pilot. Discuss flights your child has taken and ask where he’d like to fly. Paste a picture of a plane in the middle of a large sheet of art paper. Write the words “I wish I could fly to …” on the top of the paper. Find pictures in magazines or online of places your child would like to visit: Disneyland, the ocean, Grandma’s house in Oregon. Use them to create a collage on the art paper.
An airplane contest is an enjoyable activity to do with family members or when your preschooler has playmates visiting. Make paper airplanes from different weights and sizes of paper. Your child can decorate his plane with stickers. Each contest participant stands at a designated spot and flies his plane to see which one goes the longest distance. Measure to find the winner. You can measure in footsteps and then use a ruler. Talk about which tool is more accurate for measuring and why the winning plane went farther.
What child doesn’t love the airport? Take a field trip to the closest airport and talk about the sights and sounds. When you arrive home, set up an “airplane” with chairs. Your child is the passenger. Bring out a suitcase and have him think of the items he’d need to pack. He can look out the imaginary plane window and talk about what he sees. Enlist family members to act as the pilot, flight attendant and mechanic.
Borrow the melody to a well-known song such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Talk about words such as clouds, fly, take off, land, plane and sky. Make up lyrics to an airplane song and sing them to the famous melody. For example, “I’m an airplane, I fly high. Watch me take off to the sky.” Your child will want to sing, dance and hold his arms out like an airplane.
Kids love to see their artwork on display. Give your child an airplane cut from heavy art paper. He can color or paint it with nontoxic paints, adding a door and windows. This type of activity develops his fine motor skills. Attach the plane to a string and hang it from the ceiling in his room.