Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Space Unit

I taught the last 2 Tuesdays at our elementary co-op.  We're in a space unit right now, which is one of my favorite subjects!  I actually taught this unit before, way back in 2006, when I was pregnant with Anna.  Although I taught the 1st and 2nd graders back then, and I taught the 5th and 6th graders this time, at least I had some ideas for where I was going and what I wanted to cover.

Last week we talked about stars.  After talking about differences in size, color, etc., we focused on constellations that are in the sky right now in the evening.  We did several activities to help them be able to recognize Orion, Taurus, Jupiter (which is above Taurus right now), the Pleidies, Auriga, Gemini, Canis Major, and Canis Minor, as well as the Big Dipper, the North Star, and Casseiopia. I told some of the Greek myths behind the constellations too. One thing I do that is always popular is pound nailholes into the bottom of pringles cans in the shape of the constellations (actually you have to punch in the mirror image so it looks right when you look through the can).  I sent the kids home with instructions to look at the stars at night and see how many of those constellations they could identify--but unfortunately practically all of the nights were cloudy, LOL.  Oh well.

Today we focused on the moon.  After talking about features on the moon's surface, what it is made of, and how it shines, we talked about the phases.  I demonstrated them with a globe, light, and foil-covered styrofoam ball, and then the kids made these moon phase plates out of oreos. I "glued" the oreos to the plates with white frosting.  The activity was a hit, LOL. 

Then we talked about the space race, and they made a timeline with figures I drew back when I taught this the last time, and I had extra creativity and time, LOL.  From back when Nathan went through his huge big space phase (when he was 4-5), we have a set of die-cast figurines of the Apollo program--Saturn V rocket, command and service module, lunar module, command capsule with the flotation collar and those big beach-ball-looking things that keep it upright in the water, lunar rover, and a few other figures.   Those are great to illustrate things like docking the command and service module with the lunar lander.  I even dug out some pictures of us down in Huntsville, AL, at the Space and Rocket Center, to show how big the Saturn 5 really was!  I just love the race to the moon!  I've read a ton of books on it (again, back when I had lots of time, LOL), and it is so fascinating.  Michael Collins (the third Apollo 11 astronaut, the one who piloted the command module while Aldrin and Armstrong went down to the moon) wrote a really good autobiography called Carrying the Fire that is one of my favorites.

Anyhow, it is a shame that I am so busy right now and can't just enjoy this unit more, because there are so many interesting websites and new things to read!  I am really relieved to be done with the teaching part, though.  Being at TNT all morning really makes for a long day for me, as I have to come back to Rivendell and teach memory work and life science.  We did not meet at all for biology last week (although I gave the boys a bunch of assignments!), which gave me time to finish this week's lesson plan, but we'll meet this week on Thursday.  In fact, I should be preparing for that now, instead of blogging . . .We're covering the immune system in great detail, and I am definitely not prepared yet!

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