Saturday, January 24, 2015

Our Astronomy Unit!

This kiddo had quite a bit learn still.
Before the winter break we wrapped up our astronomy unit. I started off the unit with a quick pre-assessment where I asked the kids to draw our solar system as best as they could, and include as much detail as possible. I asked them to try and think about scale, and to only include things that are actually in our solar system.

Ah...much better, but still some misconceptions to clear up.
After looking through the pre-assessments it was pretty clear that my kids had a wide range of basic background knowledge. Some could draw the planets in order, and even come close on their sizes, while others drew the planets in a grid format, all the same size.  It was pretty clear that even my students with a lot of background knowledge also had a ton of misconceptions. (One of my favorites was that many of my kiddos drew stars as part of our solar system) There were also many elements missing from all of my students' drawings, including things like dwarf planets and the asteroid belt. 

I taught a bunch of lessons during the unit, but I'm going to mention a few of my favorite things that are easy to share.

We started with the basic idea of My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles. A great mneumonic to help kids remember the order of the planets. And no, we don't teach about Pluto as a planet. It is just one of the 5 discovered dwarf planets in our solar system...not even the largest of them, and's been this way for nearly 9 years people! :)  

This website from NASA is obviously chock full of information about the planets. My kids used it as a resource when they completed the planet brochures I'll share about later. If nothing else, it can serve as a great way to get yourself caught up on all the recent changes in the world of space exploration.

Of course no science unit would be complete without watching one of the classic Bill Nye videos. Kids still love them, and he has one of the best visual representations of the scale of the solar system that I've seen. 

Brainpop isn't a free resource, but you CAN sign up for a free week trial. They have an entire section of videos about space, with a quick little video about each of the planets, and many other things related to space as well. I made great use of it during this unit. At least three of the videos are free without a sign-up too.

We made these Oreo Cookie Moon Phases as kind of a fun wrap-up to studying the phases of the moon. 

I used a few web resources for teaching this.

I also made this Planet Research Brochure for my students to complete as a side project. I thought it went really well. My kids had a lot of fun making the brochures, and when we had a gallery walk to show off their finished products, the kids were really proud of the work they had put in to making them look great. 

I went ahead and added the brochure to my store for two bucks! Grab up a copy if you teach about the planets and use it as a whole class project or an enrichment opportunity for fast finishers. 

1 comment:

  1. I love teaching planets. Wish I had seen this back in September. Now I am already excited about next year!


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