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    space activities
    By Julianne

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    We're doing a space unit right now! It's a great way to finish up the year, so exciting. Here are a few of the activities we do along with making a space book, much like the one mentioned above.

    1. We make a space ship in our classroom. This year we're making a "space station" from a refrigerator box. I put a basket of space related books in the station along with a couple of old computer keyboards to simulate work stations. We add a couple of ice cream buckets with a circle cut out of one side. These are our space helmets. A couple of years ago I made "uniforms" from cheap white t-shirts. I copied a NASA (don't tell them - it's probably copyrighted) logo onto iron-on paper and put it on each shirt. We allow about 4 kids at a time into the station.

    2. We do experiments to understand things in space. I got most of them from the wonderful Janice VanCleave books. We measure a close up tree and a far-away tree to see how big things can look tiny if they are far away. We listen for the crack of a bat across the playground to see the difference between how fast light travels and how fast sound travels. We create an envelope with a hole punched card inside. When it is brightly lit in front you can only see the envelope (like the day sky). But if the room is dark you can hold the envelope up and see the hole punches in the card (like stars in the night sky)

    3. We make a constellation in a can. Each child brings a tin can from home. We choose a constellation, mark it on the end of the can and hammer a nail through each star. Then we shine a flashlight through the holes to make a constellation on our ceiling.

    4. We spend a "day" in space. We decide on jobs astronauts would have and gather materials they would need. One child might be a navigator and he would need a star chart. Another child might be a security officer and she would need a badge and an area of the classroom to be the "brig". I set out several space related centers for the bulk of the kids, then kind of orchestrate a series of situations where we need certain crewmembers. The highlight of the day is our meal where we eat "space food" which is a little baggie of space fudge and a pouch juice drink.

    5. We learn how rockets work by setting off a water rocket and a balloon rocket on a string.

    My hope is that the students come away from these experiences thinking more like a scientist, and that they are excited about the idea of space travel.

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