How to Teach Preschoolers About Night & Day

Preschoolers can learn about night and day.
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To an adult night and day might seem like common concepts, but to a preschooler these ideas aren't always entirely understood. Unlike toddlers, preschoolers are ready to start beginning to sort and compare all kinds of things, as well as understanding time of day. You can use this budding skills set to help your little learner discover the differences between night and day. Instead of going abstract, make your night and day lesson concrete and hands-on. Above all, kick the notion of boring worksheets or monotonous dittos out the door, and turn learning about night and day into an awesome activity.

Discuss night and day with your preschooler. Kids of this age are developmentally ready to understand full sentences, but some (especially younger preschoolers) may have difficulty learning about the more abstract concepts. Use concrete wording and examples in your discussion such as, "The sun comes out to shine on you during the day. But, the sun goes away at night" or, "Day is like when you turn the lights on and night is dark."

Make actual observations. Go outside during the day and ask your preschooler to tell you what she sees. Write down her observations in a notebook, using her words. Repeat the observations and night. Read her the lists and ask her to make comparisons.

Get hands-on with the learning. Have your child draw a picture of both day and night. She can draw these from memory, a photo or during her observations. Draw with crayons or markers on white paper for day and with chalk on black paper for night. Hang the pictures next to each to compare and contrast.

Continue to reinforce the night and day concepts all the time. Ask your child daily if she thinks it is night out or day out and why. Look for answers such as, "It's day because I can see the sun" or, "I know it's night because the moon and stars are out and it's dark."

  • Preschoolers are often afraid of the dark. If you know, or think, that your child is afraid of the dark bring a flashlight outside for observations or turn on a porch light.
  • Instead of making just one night and one day drawing, have your child make a few over several days. Have your child sort them into categories.
  • If you are having trouble starting, or keeping up, a conversation about night and day, begin with a picture book. Look for a title that features real photos or realistic illustrations.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.