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Last week I was in charge of teaching at our homeschool co-op. The theme was science and I chose to do an astronomy lesson. We had so much fun that I thought I would share the activities here so that others can use them in their teaching. These ideas could be used to make a fun space unit for kids! My kids have really been interested in space lately, so they were pretty excited to learn more about it.
I started by reading the kids a book called Me and My Place in Space by Joan Sweeney and illustrated by Annette Cable. It is a cute book about the solar system and planets. After the story we put our own planets in order. I found a printable cut-out solar system online. We spread them out on the floor and figured out the order.
Then we talked a little about how big the solar system is and how far apart the planets are. I did this with a fun activity using a roll of toilet paper. We rolled out 100 sheets of toilet paper and put the planet cut-outs on the different squares. Making a scale model of the solar system scaled down to 100 squares. They LOVED this!
This is our re-creation at home after the activity.
Here are the measurements if you want to try this out:
First you put the sun down.
Then 1 square away is Mercury
Venus is at 1.8 squares from the sun
Earth is at 2.5 squares
Mars is at 3.8 squares
Jupiter is at 13.2 squares
Saturn is at 24.2 squares
Uranus is at 48.6 squares
Neptue is at 76.3 squares
Pluto is at 100 squares
I taught the kids about Copernicus and Galileo and how they figured out that the planets rotate around the sun and not the other way around.
The final thing we did was learn a little about constellations. I have a great book called The Kids Book of the Night Sky by Anne Love and Jane Drake, and illustrated by Heather Collins. It has mythological stories about where the constellation names and pictures come from. It also teaches about different constellations and shows the stars at all different seasons of the year. It has some fun learning activities in it as well. If you are looking for a good kids book about astronomy, I highly recommend this one! We really like it. I read a few thing to the kids from this book to the kids so they could learn some of the stories.
I found some really cute printable constellation cards from Mrs. Home Economist. There are six different constellations. I printed these out and punched out the holes. Then I gave the kids a sheet of blue or black construction paper. I had them copy the constellations on their papers with a yellow or white crayon by coloring dots where I punched the holes. Then they did a dot-to-dot and connected the constellations. We put star stickers on the dots. They kids really enjoyed making their own constellations. They especially liked learning the stories about the ones they were making. I heard lots of kids telling their moms about the constellation that they made.
I have a great ipad app called Star Walk that I pulled up to show them the constellations as well. They were so fascinated by this! It has beautiful images of the sky.
It turned out to be a really fun activity that I think the kids will remember. It will also spark their interest and make them want to learn more about the sky!