Space is a fascinating topic that attracts adults and children alike!
It is also a topic that can be quite confusing for our kids… especially since much of what they know is centered around books that they’ve read or cartoons that they’ve watched on TV.
In my classroom, I usually like to begin a new topic of study with something familiar. That’s why I usually start off our space unit with the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth. These are all words and concepts that our students are familiar and comfortable with.
After sharing and discussing EVERYTHING we know, or THINK we know, about these 3 celestial bodies we watch a Brainpop Jr. video on the Sun and discuss any misconceptions we may have had and any new facts we learned.
Over the next few days, we repeat this same procedure with the Moon …
and then the Earth…
Next up…. the students work on creating a model showing how the Earth and Moon orbit the Sun. This comes from my Space Freebie resource which can be located by clicking any of the pictures below…
I love this activity because it allows the students to manipulate the Earth and Moon. They actually get an opportunity to move the Earth so that it orbits the Sun. They are also able to move the Moon and watch it orbit the Earth.
This model also gives the students an idea of the proportion in size between the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon. This is especially important since most of them usually think that the Earth is about the same size if not bigger than the Sun.
Making these models is quite simple. All you need is the printed pattern, glue, scissors, crayons, and brads.
… to check my kiddos understanding, once they have completed their models, I like to have them write about their learning. (This also gives me a chance to correct any misconceptions.) This is where this sheet comes in handy…
Here’s a look at some of our finished work…
…as if that wasn’t enough… today we cooked up a COMET with some sand during our field trip to the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.
The kids were amazed by the wispy, smoke bellowing out of their bowls. They also loved how the sand, water, ammonia, and corn syrup mixture hardened almost immediately once the dry ice was added. I must admit it WAS PRETTY AWESOME!
Click here for a link I found to a recipe similar to the one we used today.
So as you can see we’ve been pretty busy and hands on as we’ve been learning about our solar system. Stay tuned for some future posts as we learn about the planets.