This month we have been studying one of my husband's favorite topics.....SPACE!
Our "textbook" for this unit was the National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space. I have found that you really can't go wrong with anything from the National Geographic brand. The book was very clearly written and easy for our 10 and 8 yr old to understand. Each page was filled with amazing photographs from space and small easy to digest facts and terms. The book was broken down into 5 chapters so we decided to schedule one chapter per week.
The first week was all about "Looking up from Earth" so we spent the week learning about the sun and the moon. We had a wonderful time learning the phases of the moon thanks to Oreo cookies! I found this free worksheet detailing the phases of the moon on education.com and then had the kids reproduces the phases with Oreos. It looks easier than it was. The cookies kept crumbling and breaking when the kids tried to cut them into the correct shapes. We did eventually get it finished however and the kids were more than willing to eat all of the "oops" cookies. Come to think of it they may have broken a few just so they had more to eat. I wouldn't put it past them!
The next chapter in the book was "Earth's Neighborhood". After reading about all of the different planets in our solar system the girls were getting pretty confused. It was a lot of information to retain and they had never covered the planets in public school. I found a free printable that outlined the popular "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles" mnemonic for remembering the order of the planets. The free option seems to have disappeared but there is a $6 unit still available.
We also printed out these free planet cards and then turned them into a simple planet themed books. The girls just stapled together 9 pieces of construction paper into a book and then cut out the facts about the planets and glued them on the appropriate pages.
What would a unit about the planets be without a model of the solar system? We decided to do a 3D poster board using a foam board, Styrofoam balls of different sizes, paint, and chalk.We simply cut the balls in half and then the girls researched what each planet looked like in order to paint it correctly. Once the planets were painted we glued them on to the foam board and added the orbits around the sun with chalk.
The next chapter we covered was "Earth's Other Neighbors" which covered asteroids, meteors, dwarf planets, and comets. We decided to add these to our solar system model as well. The girls had a blast using white beans to make the asteroid belt.
Next up was the chapter "Far Far Away" which covered stars and constellations. We found a free map of the summer constellations and used mini marshmallows and toothpicks to attempt to recreate them.
Of course the kids may have invented a few of their own along the way......
What kind of homeschool mom would I be if we didn't finish up our chapter about exploring space without some sort of rocket launch? I researched several options and finally settled with this Stomp Rocket Kit. At $12 it was in our budget, it is foam so I don't have to worry about anyone putting an eye out, and it can be reused over and over again. WIN!
Over all we had an amazing month studying Space and I honestly can't wait to do the unit again with our younger kids! I would love to hear about your own Space units!