To be honest there are several reasons we need to teach space topics! But first, a story…
When the movie Apollo 13 was showing in theaters our children were 8 and 11. We decided to take them to see the movie as a way to learn some history of the space program. At that time they both had knowledge that astronauts had been to the moon, but all they had seen in the news was coverage of the space shuttle program.
We watched that movie on the edge of our seats! Y’all it was pretty suspenseful and I knew the outcome! We enjoyed the movie so much, but here is the thing I remember. As we left the theater my daughter (age 8) said, “I was so scared they were going to die.”
Worst mom ever award for me! I should have assured both children that the movie would have a good ending. I knew the history. They did not.
The history is the number 1 reason we should teach about space!
1. Children do need to know the history. Many of our children right now only know about space shuttles and if you ask them, they will tell you space shuttles went to the moon. If you can find a video of the 1969 moon landing, show it to your students. (btw- I watched that landing on television with my grandfather. Imagine how he felt in seeing men walking on the moon!)
2. Space exploration involves a tremendous amount of engineering. This is a big part of the Apollo 13 movie. In my STEM classes, I use the example of how the astronauts were saved by engineering some wonky materials into an oxygen device to save their lives.
3. Science Fiction, anyone? Your students that enjoy nonfiction or science fiction love learning more about space exploration.
4. We still have astronauts today! Even though the shuttle program is not operational on this date doesn’t mean we don’t have young people studying and committing to the future space program. Just a few days ago the first all-woman crew performed a spacewalk to repair parts of the Space Station. What an encouragement to the girls (and boys) in our classes!
I have several great ways to celebrate all things space-related:
- Escape Room
- Print and Read
- Flipper Booklets
- Task Cards
I have linked all these to the resources. Just click on any of the images.
Space Shuttle Escape Room
Have you tried an Escape Room yet? My students cannot get enough of them. This Space Shuttle Escape Room is a favorite. It begins with students examining a data table listing the shuttle missions. The table includes some of the accomplishments of the missions. The task for students is to arrange the data in chronological order. Skills include reading, using a data table, matching clues to the events on the data table, and arranging by dates.
The second task is to solve a riddle by completing math problems. The third task has students tracking the path of a shuttle on a USA map.
The resource includes a STEM Challenge! This one is building a space robot. Students must design a robot model that will be beneficial, in some way, for the astronauts. In the photo of the robot (above), you can see little wheels on the bottom of the model. These are from a LEGO set and they are optional. The model is a robot that helps vacuum planet dust or rocks that the astronauts want to keep.
Space Print & Read
I have so much fun making these sets of reading resources. Each contains four reading passages with comprehension questions. I also include a ‘newspaper’ that has 3-4 articles about the topic. The newspaper page has its own comprehension page and two graphic organizers. The best part of the newspaper is that I make sure to use text features and students must identify them.
The reading passages for the Space Print and Read includes the Challenger shuttle, Sally Ride, Bonnie Dunbar, and walking in space. The newspaper includes articles about stars, falling stars, light-years, and NASA.
These sets are ready to go- just print and read!
We love these little flipper books! The size of the finished booklet is 5 x 8 inches. They fit perfectly in a science folder or notebook. The Earth in Space booklet has 7 pages.
Students will be writing about the earth’s tilt, how day and night are determined, and the seasons, matching vocabulary, labeling the planets, completing a puzzle, and extra research is optional. We love the bright covers of these booklets and I also provide the cover in black/white.
The Sun and Planets Little Flipper is another great one to use while you are studying space.
Each page of the 10-page booklet features a planet and students fill in a data table about each. The sun is also included! I provided posters about the planets and the sun that students can use while they complete the pages.
TIP: We have learned that the pages should be completed before cutting them out. It is easier to color with a whole piece of paper.
TIP: I provided ‘cut lines’ around the flipbook pages. I advise students to cut between the cut line and the edge of the flipbook page. This keeps them from cutting too far!
The first sets like this task card set were made to satisfy a need in my classroom. My third graders loved using a Time for Kids magazine. I loved it because of the nonfiction text features. We would label those on the pages of our magazines.
The only problem was the topics in the magazines did not always match what we were studying. So, I started creating my own magazine templates.
The Space set includes a four-page newspaper with many articles. There are 42 task cards about the text features and with comprehension questions. There are 12 open-ended task cards that have students drawing tables, writing paragraphs, or completing more research.