These activities are a part of a series of posts about Astronomy and Astronauts. This moon and stars unit study is a family style morning basket, designed to meet the needs of the whole child. Each weekly theme has three posts with activities for preschool to 2nd grade, 3rd to 5th grade and 6th grade and up. There are four weekly themes for this Astronomy and Astronauts unit study: Moon and Stars, Space and Planets, Rockets and Space Shuttles, and Astronauts.
Space and Planets : Primary, Intermediate, Secondary
Rockets and Space Shuttles: Primary, Intermediate, Secondary
Astronauts : Primary, Intermediate, Secondary
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Science and Math Living Books
The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons is a comprehensive look at the Earth’s moon. This book uses easy to understand language and is therefore a read-aloud for preschoolers to 2nd grade. The text is short enough that preschoolers can attend to it and they will enjoy the illustrations. This book also works well as an independent reader for 3rd to 5th grade. The Moon Book is filled with facts, vocabulary, and even a few folktales about the moon.
Henry’s Stars by David Elliot is a sweet picture book for preschoolers that explores the idea of constellations. Henry and his farm animal friends notice that the stars make shapes. Great introduction to constellations for little ones!
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman explores the amazing vastness of the universe in a fun way. This book is also a nice introduction to large numbers. Be sure to read the author and illustrator biographies at the back of the book, too.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: I Know Exactly What You Are by Julia Kregenow is the perfect family morning basket time book. The first half of the book is a preschool to early elementary picture book based on the popular nursery rhyme, only using astronomy vocabulary and details. The second half is an upper elementary to middle school book focusing on how stars are created, what they’re made of and why they look like they are twinkling.
After reading aloud The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons, or similar title filled the facts about the moon, go back through the book with your child to review the facts discussed in the book. Then, use this worksheet to ask your child questions about the moon and to record their answers.
Stars, Moon, and Clouds by Eugene Bradley Coco is a sweet, fiction story of a little boy who collects some stars, the moon, and some clouds to keep in his room. After discovering how unhappy the stars, moon, and clouds are, he sets them back in night sky. My preschool kids LOVE this Little Golden book. Not only does it glow in the dark, but they also love the excuse to turn the lights off and on after reading each page.
Biographical Living Book
Starry Messenger by Peter Sis is a Caldecott Honor Book that is another great family morning basket time book as it has text for younger audiences and extra facts boxes for older kids to enjoy. Tells the story of Galileo Galilei’s courageous life.
This sensory bag is great for toddlers to explore by moving the stars around with their hands and is fabulous fine motor work, too! Preschoolers and early elementary aged kiddos can move the stars around with their fingers. Then, they can draw a constellation on the bag with a dry-erase marker. Making a sensory bag is super easy and cheap! I used a gallon sized zipper bag and added half of a bottle of clear hair gel from the dollar store and five stars that I cut out of a yellow foam sheet. For younger kids, I would definitely recommend taping it shut with a strong tape.
Play dough is an easy way to get some heavy work, proprioceptive sensory play into your preschooler’s day. Add in some star cookie cutters for themed play. Two of my youngest have a severe gluten allergy, so I make a gluten free play clay for them (pictured above).
Stars Above Us by Geoffrey Norman tells of a girl who is afraid of the dark and whose father is a soldier about to be deployed. Her father helps her overcome her fear of the dark while helping her to feel connected to him. A comforting story for kids who are afraid of the dark.
This short video by Story Bots gives kids some concrete examples of strategies to try when something is scaring them.
Nature Study of Constellations
Glow in the Dark Constellations: A Field Guide for Young Stargazers by C.E. Thompson is a wonderful, easy to use guide for beginning astronomers. This book is written for constellations easily seen from the continental United States. It includes details about 33 constellations plus step by step directions for viewing each. Most constellations are named after Greek and Roman gods, and so it includes a bit of the accompanying myth for each of the Greek and Roman gods. Your older kids may become interested in learning more about Greek and Roman mythology.
We made these constellations with star stickers and sidewalk chalk on black construction paper. You can have your kids make up their own constellation. Then, they can give it a name, and tell where to look for it in the sky. Or, you may want to help your younger kids place their stars into the shape of the first letter of their name, if they are working on letter identification.
A moon and stars unit study wouldn’t be complete with Oreo cookies! Use the Oreo moon phases matching worksheet from Simply Learning Kids along with some Oreos to replicate the phases of the moon after reading The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons.
Living Historical Fiction
The Moon Over Star by Dianna Hutts Aston is about a little girl named Mae (possibly a nod to astronaut Mae Jemison) who dreams of becoming an astronaut after witnessing the lunar landing on television in 1969.
I’ve created a list of vocabulary to go with the astronomy and astronauts unit. You can use these picture cards as a word wall, as flash cards, for copywork, or as spelling words.
If you would like to add Bible study to your morning time, your family will love 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 moon and stars unit study: pages 26-27, 58-59, 68-69, 90-91, 130-131, and 134-135.
Family schooling naturally has overlap between learner’s abilities. That’s why morning baskets and unit studies work so well for larger homeschool families! Therefore, there may be activities detailed in another level that will still be of benefit to your family even if you don’t have any students working at a different level. Check them out below:
Check out my Astronomy and Astronauts Pinterest Board for more ideas!