Earth Systems and Earth’s Place in the Universe are two of the big ideas that are covered in our Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Teaching students about outer space is important for their understanding of these concepts. Luckily, learning about space and the solar system can be integrated into your other subjects. This will be both interesting for students and time-saving for you! Today, I am going to talk about 4 must-haves for your outer space unit!
1. A Collection of Books to Explore
First, you are going to need a good collection of mentor texts. Integrate your mentor texts into your ELA block, having kids explore both fiction and nonfiction texts about space. Not only can these books be worked into students’ independent and partner reading time, but also into your lessons as read alouds, and into your small groups as skill texts. The more opportunities your students have to explore these books, the greater their understanding will be. You will want to choose texts with high-quality images and accurate scientific terms. Students will be able to visually see “outer space” which will help them grasp the concept and they will develop a more specific vocabulary.
Suggested Links Your Kids May Like:
- The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System
- I Am the Solar System
- There Was a Black Hole That Swallowed the Universe
- National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space
- National Geographic Everything Space
Next, you’ll need oreos! Models are going to be important when teaching about space. Because the concept is so large, and we can’t “see” it in real-time, we must create simulations or models. Oreos are a great tool for teaching students about the phases of the Moon. This activity is low-budget, low-prep, and high-engagement. Use the post linked below to guide your students through the phases of the moon. Each student will follow your directions and scrape the cream from their cookies to create each phase of the moon. You will also need paper plates and a plastic spoon or toothpick for scraping.
Source Link: Little Bins for Little Hands
3. Inflatable Planets & Sun Replica
Additionally, I recommend using a model solar system. Inflatable ones, like the pictures above, are great choices. You can hang these models in your room and refer back to them, even after your space unit is over. It is much easier for a student to understand a concept if they can visualize it.
4. Ready-Made Supplemental Activities
Finally, you are going to need resources. Printable (or digital) comprehension passages, research and fact activities, and writing prompts are going to be easy add-ins for your lesson plans. Similar to the mentor texts, you can add informational space passages and activties to your reading and writing block. The Space Unit from the pictures above, comes in both printable and digital formats. With specific space concepts as the passage topics and a variety of ready-made activities for your students, you will not have to prep anything!