A Themed Family School Unit Study for Morning Baskets and More

These activities are a part of a series of posts about Astronomy and Astronauts. This rockets and spacecraft 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:

Moon and Stars: Primary, Intermediate, Secondary

Space and Planets : Primary, Intermediate, Secondary

Rockets and Spacecraft: Primary, Intermediate, Secondary

Astronauts : Primary, Intermediate, Secondary

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Living Science Books

Armstrong by Torben Kuhlmann is a lovely story of a mouse who is fascinated by the moon. He soon learns more about the moon and technology, and develops a dream of someday going to the moon. This book is very long for a picture book, so you’ll probably want to break it into chunks for younger kids. However, the illustrations are spectacular and the author seamlessly weaves history into the story line, making it a great selection for all the kids in your family.

Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker is a biography of a humble, gifted woman who was an integral mathematician at NASA. She not only calculated the trajectory for Shepard’s first space flight, but also saved Apollo 13 with her calculations. Be sure to read the “More About Katherine” section at the back of the book too.

Fiction

Rocket-Bye Baby: A Spaceflight Lullaby by Danna Smith is a sweet night-time lullaby for young children. This book describes how a mother and child could stargaze together, watch meteors pass, and blow kisses to the moon as they travel through space.

Read Aloud

Adventures Beyond the Solar System: Planetron and Me by Geoffrey Williams is available on Kindle and Audible, or look on Amazon for used copies as it’s out of print. This sequel to Adventures in the Solar System: Planetron and Me is a wholesome story of a young boy whose toy rocket becomes a real space ship that takes him into outer space where he learns about astronomy. Alternatively, if you have older kids reading the Wrinkle in Time series, have everyone enjoy the same set of books.

Folktale

This week’s folktale comes from Venezuela and has been told by the Warao tribe for generations. Listen to The Owner of the Sun on Circle Round Podcast. You can print out a coordinating coloring sheet to color while listening here. Discussion questions are also included at the same link.

Gross and Fine Motor

aquarium gravel and astronauts toys sensory bin

Sensory bins are an important tool to promote your child’s development of fine motor skills, language, self-regulation, and so much more. Check out this article that details why sensory bins are worth the messy factor. This outer space sensory bin starts with glow in the dark aquarium gravel in an aluminum foil roasting pan. (I used a 5pound bag of gravel in the largest roasting pan that the dollar store had). Add in some astronauts and spaceships like this set or this set.

Grab a playground sized ball or large balloon and turn your body into a Rocket Launcher. Lay on your back with your knees folded up to your chest. Place the ball or balloon (the rocket) on your feet. Count down from 10 and kick your legs straight up into the air when you get to “blast off!”.

STEAM

Jack Hartman is our favorite YouTube children’s singer. In this rocket themed video, he counts down from 10 to Blast Off! Also, check out some of Jack Hartman’s brain breaks videos when you need to get your kids movin’ and groovin’ a bit to improve their focus.

Build rockets, moon rovers, an Earth, the sun and moon, or even a replica of the American flag planted on the moon with Duplos or other building blocks. For preschoolers needing extra practice with counting backwards, have them build a tower with 10 blocks and then take one off as they count down to zero.

Make a balloon rocket with string, a balloon, and a straw; use these instructions from Mombrite.

Build an Apollo replica with items from your recycle bin. Wash out some tin cans and add some bolts and magnets and let your kids’ imagination soar. Or let them use construction paper shapes to build a rocket on a piece of black construction paper.

Language Arts

Owl and Wormy: Bright Lights and Starry Nights by Andy Runton is a wordless picture book perfect to get little ones talking and making up their own story. Take turns and let everyone in the family tell their version of the story. Parents, be sure to model using dialogue (where the characters talk to each other) and not just telling the story as a narrator. Not only will this help them as writers later on, but also helps them to develop empathy and the ability to see things from other’s viewpoints.

After reading Zoom, Rocket, Zoom by Margaret Mayo or Roaring Rockets by Tony Mitton, go back through the book and see if your child can find the rhyming word sets. Then ask your child to come up with more words, even nonsense words, that rhyme, such as: light, bright, might, kite, bite, sight, etc. If they have trouble coming up with rhyming words, help them go through the alphabet, putting each sound in front of the word ending. For example, b+ ite, d+ite, f+ite. Working on these tasks helps with the phonemic awareness tasks of segmenting and rhyming. Learn more about phonemic awareness and why it’s so important in this post. Our family loves to work on rhyming words while we’re driving in the car (it’s a sneaky way to get in some school time while they are a captive audience and helps to pass the time).

Learn about onomatopoeia in this Galactic Radio audiobook video. Onomatopoeia are words that make the sound they represent. For example, thunk or zoom, are sounds that objects make, and moo and oink are sounds that animals make.

Fine Arts

Our morning basket always has one of the Come Look with Me books by Gladys S. Blizzard in it. I think my kids love them because they feel like there aren’t any “wrong” answers to the open-ended questions when studying the paintings. The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh is on page 14-15 of the Exploring Landscape Art with Children book of the Come Look with Me series. In addition to the questions, each painting has a short biography of the artist.

Create some van Gogh inspired finger painting with this project from The Imagination Tree. Alternatively, you could use up some broken crayons with this Starry Night re-creation from Happy Hooligans.

Devotions

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 rockets and spacecraft study: pages 48-49, 52-53, 54-55, 74-75, and 96-97.

More Ideas

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 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:

Rockets and Spacecraft: Intermediate, Secondary

Be sure to follow my Pinterest board Astronomy and Astronauts for more great morning basket ideas for your Rockets and Spacecraft unit!

Don’t forget to pin this post so you can refer back to it during your Rockets and Spacecraft study.

rocket launching
rocket spacecraft

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