Back to School Lesson Plan: E is for Electricity!

E is for electricity Unit
by Rachel Hoggan

This was one of my favorite "preschool" units with my kids! Their dad is an engineer who works in a lab building circuit boards for satellites, so I had fun involving him in teaching the kids this week.

As usual, we learned the shape and sound of the letter E. My kids do not like doing ordinary letter tracing worksheets--probably because they are young and still developing fine motor skills. Each week, I try to find different ways to have my kids get familiar with the shape of the letter. We build the letter out of blocks, chocolate chips, push pins, or magnets. We sometimes trace the letter in sand or shaving cream. Or we work on it outside as we are playing with our sidewalk chalk. For electricity, we made a letter E out of tinfoil because tinfoil is a conductor. Another simple game we often play to practice our letter sounds is "I spy." As I'm driving in the car to and from soccer or the library or the grocery store, I will say "I spy with my little eye, something that starts with the letter ____ (or the sound "___").


The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip by Joanne Cole
This book is definitely geared towards older school kids--a lot of concepts are too advanced for a preschooler. But the Magic School Bus series is great, and even if they didn't understand everything both my boys LOVED it. We read it several times, and they continued to ask for more Magic School Bus stories after this.

Electricity (DK Eyewitness Book)

We definitely didn't read every word of this book, but this was a handy reference with plenty of pictures and detailed information that I was able to refer to as we learned about electricity. Great for an older child, but still enjoyable for a younger child if you choose appropriate sections that your child can understand.

Another book that we didn't read but that looks good is the following:
Switch On, Switch Off

We also checked out quite a few other books out of the juvenile nonfiction section--especially some fun books with hands-on electricity experiments to try at home.

My kids are getting better at counting, but they are still working on their numeral identification, so we practiced identifying numbers on the different circuit boards we looked at. We had a lot of circuit boards that I had collected for the lesson (my husband works in electronics LOVES to take apart old electronic devices and save the circuit boards). Some of the numbers were hard to see but all of the circuit boards had numbers on them in one place or another, so it was a fun number treasure hunt.

Obviously, this unit was heavily science-based. We loved learning about both static and current electricity. I adapted a lesson about electricity that I had previously prepared a few years ago for older children in mind. Even though my children are young, they still loved it! For all my detailed science lesson on electricity--keep reading. The science lesson for this unit is included in the next post.

I made up a simple coloring page for the boys to review the concept of circuits.

And the boys had a fun father-son project (well more of a project done 99% by dad--but they learned a lot through watching him!) building a flashing siren and then painting a homemade cardboard fire engine to go around the siren.

Their dad used this kit from Amazon.com to build the siren. It was a great little kit that came with a soldering iron and solder that can be used for future projects, too.

Practical Life
We talked a lot about safety around electrical appliances. Since water is a conductor, I reminded the boys, we need to keep electric things away from water. We talked about staying away from plugs. And I reminded my son of the time he burned a hole in his wall when he dropped a coin in between his nightlight and the wall.

Field Trip
Any science museum would probably have electricity-related displays. We have several great science museums nearby. We love the Discovery Science Center in Orange County. Another fun museum is The California Science Center in Los Angeles--That museum is always free (but parking does cost money). But for our field trip this time, we went to the Griffith Observatory (also free!). The boys were quite impressed with the lightning bolts of electricity from the Tesla
Coil there.

If you are feeling ambitious and want a super cool electricity snack, try making some of these graham cracker circuit boards. I wasn't that ambitious--but maybe next time!

I couldn't find a lot of children's songs to do with electricity, but we did find this electricity song online. And we are Californians and Disney fans, so we loved dancing around to the "Main Street Electrical Parade" song.

We had a lot of fun with this unit. For more ideas, see my E is for Electricity board on Pinterest!

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