Night Sky Activities for Preschool: Night and Day Sensory Sorting

Hi friends! This has been an exciting week so far- we are studying “the night sky” at the co-op as our last unit before summer break, and I have been planning all sorts of fun activities for the twins’ classroom.  I’m really grateful that their teacher welcomes my enthusiasm 😉 In fact, she’s letting me plan the entire unit, so get ready for lots of night sky activities to come!  First up is a fun and really easy activity that I put together for morning circle to introduce our night sky theme- a night and day sensory sorting activity.

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Night and Day Sensory Sorting Activity

Night and Day Sensory Sorting Activity

When introducing themes and concepts to little ones (the children in this classroom are three), I like to plan “discovery activities” that are visually stimulating and include manipulatives to engage the senses. We know that young children learn through their senses, so it’s only natural to capitalize on that knowledge to keep them interested.  To introduce the concepts of day and night to our group, I decided to create some large sensory bottles to anchor our discussion- after all, what child (or adult for that matter) can resist swirling, whirling glitter?

Night and Day Sensory Bottles

Night and day sensory bottles

To create our sensory bottles, I used added the following ingredients to large plastic bottles:

Day Sky Bottle

  • Water
  • Blue food coloring (blue sky)
  • Sparkly white pom poms (to represent clouds)
  • Small blue sequins (just for fun)

Pour it all in and shake shake shake!

Night Sky Bottle

  • Hot water
  • About 1/2 bottle of corn syrup
  • Black liquid watercolors (food coloring would work, too)
  • Silver glitter (regular size)
  • Silver, gold, translucent, and dark blue fine glitter (provided by Craft Project
  • Small silver star sequins

For this bottle I mixed the corn syrup with the hot water in a bowl until it dissolved, then added the rest of the ingredients before pouring it all into the bottle. I used LOTS of glitter for maximum sparkle. I used corn syrup to slow the movement of the glitter and sequins through the water- you can use more if you like, but 1/2 bottle is all I had in my pantry! After adding my ingredients to the bottles, I sealed the tops with Gorilla Glue to ensure that they would stay closed.

Sorting Activity

After I created the sensory bottles, I did a quick sweep of my house and crafty stash and came up with several small items that could be categorized into “day” or “night.”  There are seven children in the class, so I found four items in category so each child could have a turn and there would be one extra for demonstration. For the “day” category, I found a gigantic yellow pom pom to represent the sun, a cardinal from the Safari Ltd Backyard Birds TOOB, a rainbow made with beads and a pipe cleaner, and a photo of the twins playing outdoors.

Day sky bottle and sorting objects

For the “night” category, I found a plastic star and moon, a pillow and blanket from Sydney’s doll house, and a photo of Will sleeping. I placed all of these items in a little drawstring bag and my activity prep was complete!

Night sky bottle and objects

To present the activity, I had all the items in a paper bag. First I asked the children to tell me what they knew about the day and night sky. After the discussion was rolling I brought out each sensory bottle and let the children pass them around the circle. They decided as a group which one best represented the night sky and which one best represented the sky during the day. Next I brought out the small bag of objects and let each child pick an object out of the bag and decide whether it was a “daytime” item or “nighttime” item, and then place it beside the appropriate bottle.  After circle was over, the items stayed on a low windowsill where the children could come back to them throughout the day and play with them as they pleased.

Developmental Skills

This activity is full of opportunities for developmental stimulation. Sorting the items into their respective categories requires problem solving skills (cognition), and our discussion was great for vocabulary expansion (language). The group situation allowed the children to practice social skills such as turn taking, listening, and giving feedback on the ideas of others (social-emotional). The sensory and hands-on aspects of the activity kept the group engaged and it was a great way to kick off a new exploration!

More Great Stuff for You

Other night sky activities for preschoolers:

Shooting Star Beanbags


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  1. Oh, I want my son to go to your pre school. If only we weren’t a continent away… Guess we will just have to make do with using all your fantastic ideas at home. Your site has become one of my go to resources. Thanks so much.

  2. Fantastic hands-on learning! I just love this, Stephanie!!

  3. Such an engaging way to teach night and day! I’d also point out though that the moon isn’t only noticeable at night. Then take those kiddos outside and see the moon in the day.


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