An Astronaut Themed Family School Unit Study for Morning Baskets
These activities are a part of a series of posts about Astronomy and Astronauts. This astronaut unit study is for a family-style morning basket time. Each weekly theme has activities for Primary (preschool to 2nd grade), Intermediate (3rd to 5th grade), and Secondary (6th grade and up). There are four weekly themes for this Astronomy and Astronauts unit study:
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Living Science and History Books
Smithsonian Eyewitness Explorer Night Sky Detective by DK Children is a fabulous choice for families wanting to learn about astronomy–and it’s a great addition to your home library. This book is filled with 30 hands-on activities that explore the night sky, constellations, stars, sundials and more. This week, I suggest reading pages 54 to 67. There are activities on each page spread. We enjoyed Latitude Locator, Find the Seven Sisters, and Galaxy in a Cup.
The award-winning Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca was republished in 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s lunar landing. The new edition includes 8 additional pages of art and information. Be sure to read the “Sources” and “One Giant Leap” sections at the back of the book for some solid information.
I am Neil Armstrong by Brad Meltzer is part of the “Ordinary People Change the World” series. This biography focuses on Neil’s childhood influences and character traits that lead him to become an astronaut. It includes a graphic timeline of his life as well.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle continues the story of Meg and Charles Wallace, and their friend, Calvin. The themes of courage, family ties, and resourcefulness are explored while the trio travels through time and space. This book is the third book in the Time Quintet series.
Watch Everyday Astronaut ditch his old orange spacesuit for a new blue one from Boeing.
Next, discover why the International Space Station has to travel so quickly in order to stay in the Earth’s orbit. Astronaut Tim Kopra explains Newton’s Law of Motion in this episode of Science Time from Space.
Gross and Fine Motor
Fine Motor: Practice fine motor skills with this intricate coloring page from NASA of the International Space Station by coloring with colored pencils.
Alternatively, have your students watch this video from 10 Minutes of Instruction Time and then practice drawing an astronaut using the instructions in the video.
Gross Motor: Frisbees were first marketed as Flying Saucers in response to the Roswell sightings and subsequent UFO hysteria. Later, they were re-named “Pluto Platters” before finally landing on their new name “Frisbee” when the Wham-O company bought the rights. Play frisbee in the yard with a family member or organize a game of Ultimate Frisbee with some homeschool friends.
English Language Arts
If you have younger children reading A Trip into Space by Lori Haskins Houran, then talk about the part of speech for words that end with -ing. Brush up on their knowledge of the parts of speech with this mad lib style Captain’s Log story from the Free Resource Library. For more Mad Libs (and grammar!) fun, throw one of these inexpensive Mad Libs books in your Amazon cart: Mad Libs from Outer Space or Unidentified Flying Mad Libs. My family likes to complete Mad Libs on road trips. Designate a writer to ask for the words and take turns coming up with crazy suggestions to make it funnier! Even young preschoolers can help come up with words.
Use alliteration to name your spacecraft. Alliteration is an element that an author uses to focus the reader’s attention by using the same beginning letter in a series of words, such as the fire-fighting ferret, or the jackrabbit joyfully jumped. Use this spaceship worksheet from the Free Resource Library for extra handwriting practice of their spaceship’s name. If your child is stumped, start with the name of an existing spacecraft, like the Endeavor or Columbia. An example using NASA’s latest spacecraft would be Oliver’s Optimistic Orion. For more information about phonemic awareness, read this article.
Learn the format for formal letters and write to an astronaut. They write back!! You can even ask for an autographed photo. Pick your favorite space traveler from NASA’s list of active astronauts. Watch this video to learn the format of a formal letter. Then use the intermediate level astronaut letter form in the Free Resource Library to write to your astronaut. The address is already typed into the letter form for you! NASA suggests enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope to speed up the return process.
Ever wonder how astronauts write in space? What writing utensil works best? Use the Astronaut Scientific Investigation worksheet from the Free Resource Library to find out. Tape a piece of paper to the underneath side of a table. Lay underneath the table and draw on the paper. Try using different writing utensils like felt tip pens, ballpoint pens, crayons, and pencils. Which ones work best? There’s no gravity in space, so writing upside down on Earth is similar to writing in space because the ink doesn’t flow through a ballpoint pen without gravity.
Space travel and exploration naturally leads to new inventions in order to solve the unique dilemmas of space. Astronauts need suits that will protect them from micro asteroids (tiny space debris) as well as provide the proper pressure and life support systems while working outside of their spacecraft. Learn the parts of their
Put the hundreds of legos laying on your tweenager’s bedroom floor to good use learning about structural engineering. Have them build a space shuttle or other spacecraft. If you feel kind of guilty for counting your child’s playing with Legos as legitimate schoolwork, read this article from MIT School of Engineering or 5 Things to learn about Structural Engineering from Legos.
Create a picture of what you see out the window of your spacecraft. Astronauts report that the stars aren’t brighter from the moon or ISS, but they can see thousands more stars than they can on Earth. Try using oil pastels or colored sidewalk chalk on a dark sheet of paper.
When the cargo area of a spacecraft is limited, the volume of items becomes very important. First, watch this video from the International Space Station about volume using Cargo Transport Bags. Next, see how much volume of packaging waste is in common items from the grocery store with these instructions.
Learn how to do the zero gravity arms trick and amaze your friends. First, place your hands on the inside of a door frame and push as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Pretend that you are trying to widen the door frame. Then lower your arms to your sides. Your arms will float back up automatically. The actual science behind this is called the Kohnstamm phenomenon.
Our family loves the devotional book Indescribable: 100 Devotions about God and Science by Louie Giglio! These five-minute devotions are filled with wondrous facts about God’s amazing creation. The following devotions match up nicely with this week’s astronaut study: pages 10-11, 20-21, 44-45, and 140-141.
Family schooling naturally has an overlap between learner’s abilities. That’s why morning baskets and unit studies work so well for homeschool families with more than one kiddo! Therefore, there may be activities
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