Outer Space

Teacher: Sigrid Methot
Unit: Outer Space

outer space

The outer space unit provides students with an opportunity to learn about the immense, fascinating universe that surrounds our Earth. Students assume the role of “KASE Astronauts,” and explore the nature of our solar system, as well as the far-off reaches of stars, galaxies, comets, and black holes. This unit is appealing to all students, as the content requires sharp use of imagination, something 5 and 6-year-olds are well-equipped to do. KASE Astronauts experience outer space through a curriculum that incorporates science, math, literacy, art, and music.

Language and Literacy
  • Students complete a K-W-L chart about outer space. The K (what we know) and W (want to learn) sections of the chart are filled out at the commencement of the unit, and the L (learned) section is completed at the end of the unit. This chart helps students to understand their growth in knowledge from the beginning to the end of the unit.
  • Students make a “Blast Off To…” tri-fold rocket. Students must write the name of the planet they would most like to visit, and then tap out the words to write one fact leaned about that planet.
  • Students enjoy a book called Look to the Stars, written by astronaut Buzz Aldrin. This book chronicles the space age from its inception and carries through to modern space travel. The pictures are vivid, and the narrative of Buzz Aldrin inspires the children to dream big.
  • Students memorize the “Star Light, Star Bright” poem, and complete a project requiring them to trace and cut out a star, glue a copy of the poem on blue construction paper, and add their wish to the back of the star (using Kindergarten spelling to tap out the words of their wish).
Science/Social Studies

art
  • Students experience the nature of “moon soil” by manipulating a large bin full of flour. Students compare what happens when they: drop a marble, make a hand print, and try to form a ball out of the flour.
  • To represent the difficulty astronauts experience when moving in outer space, students try to coax a balloon into a large cardboard box. Students quickly learn that in a weightless environment, simple tasks can take a long time, and can be rather frustrating.
  • Students attempt to assemble a “space ship” out of legos, wearing thick plastic gloves. Students learn what it is like for astronauts to perform their experiments in outer space with all of their gear on.
  • Students learn that planets are generally colder the farther they are from the sun. A heat lamp is used to reinforce this fact. Students gradually move from close, to farther from the lamp. As they draw away from the lamp, they feel less of the lamp’s heat.
  • Students must “earn their snack” by recalling a scientific fact about outer space. Students love this game – and it reinforces the content they are learning.
Math
  • Students measure the distance from the sun to the 8 planets in our solar system using floor tiles. Each floor tile represents 30 million miles. The students have to count floor tiles to determine how far apart the planets are.
  • Students take turns going to the sand table and picking up a handful of sand. Students then learn that the number of grains of sand in their hand is just a small fraction of the number of starts in just one galaxy.
  • Students learn that the paths the planets follow is an elliptical orbit, not a perfectly round, or circular path. In addition, the students learn that the farther a planet is from the sun, the longer it takes that planet to orbit the sun.


Art/ Music
  • Students learn and sing a song called “Z is for Zelda.” This song talks about zooming through outer space, and all of the bright stars and planets that can be witnessed on this journey.
  • Students create an accurate and detailed model of the solar system from their individual art projects of each planet. The solar system includes the sun, all 8 planets, stars, and comets (this project spanned nearly 2 weeks).
  • Students create glitter galaxies from construction paper, glitter, and gel markers.
  • Students trace one member of the class, and transform the tracing into an astronaut, complete with helmet, space suit, moon boots, and air tank. This “life-size” astronaut is given a name and displayed in the classroom.
  • Students create a unique constellation using silver star stickers, white colored pencils, and black construction paper. Students give their constellation a name.
  • Students make alien masks out of paper plates, decorated with an array of art supplies.
  • Students make a project depicting the 4 main phases of the moon, complete with labels for each phase.
  • Students use foamy stickers and free-hand drawing to depict a black hole nestled among a galaxy of stars, planets, and moons.
  • student art
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