Welcome to our Outer Space Unit! This unit is Space Jam-packed with the coolest activities! (Sorry, we just couldn’t help ourselves!) We are going to learn about our solar system, the phases of the moon 🌑 and space exploration 🚀—and there’s a good chance you’ll have just as much fun as your child. Want to keep track of the books you read and the skills you teach? Download our printable tracker worksheet here. 🌟
Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- Smart Kids: Space: For Kids Who Really Love Space! by Sarah Powell
- The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons
- Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
- Constellations by Grace Hansen
Optional additional reading:
- A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman
- There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System by Tish Rabe
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- simple solar system kit
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- yellow golf ball (you can also use a yellow paper ball or large pom pom)
- small blue bouncy ball or bead (the blue one in this set would work—it just needs to be smaller than the yellow ball you use)
- pie plate
- hot glue gun + glue (you can also use tape)
- plastic sewing needle (optional)
- hole punch
- construction paper (you need a lot of black paper for yoru diorama)
- white chalk
- a small to medium boxes
- Optional for bonus activity: ingredients for these constellation cookies
- black and white sandwich cookies (like Oreos or whichever brand you prefer)
- ping pong ball (optional for upgrade)
- flash light (optional for upgrade)
- cotton balls
- flour (or gluten-free flour)
- food coloring
- baby oil
- small rocks
- cocoa powder (optional for upgrade)
- tissue paper
- toilet paper roll
- foam sheets (you could also use cardstock)
- acrylic paints
- plastic fork (a metal fork will work, too!)
- glass jar
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
Let’s start our Space Unit by learning about our solar system! To begin, read the book Space: For Kids who really love space! or There’s no Place Like Space (we love them both) to introduce the unit to your child. This video is also a nice introduction to our lesson to supplement the books.
Activity 1: Build a model of the solar system with your model kit and a little help from these space cards. (You only need pages 1-8, but print pages 3-5 twice for later activity.)
Use the included paints (blue, white, tan, orange, yellow, green and gray) to make this kit come to life. Using the printed space cards (pages 7-9), identify the names of each sphere and paint each planet or moon. Use the cards to guide your color choices. As your child paints each planet, read to them from the card and give them the facts and details they can absorb based on their age and attention. Here’s a video to share if you need more inspiration for your painting project. Once it is built, discuss the orbit of the planets around the sun.
(-)If your child is still learning their colors, this would be a great time to reinforce this skill.
***Note: Keep the model safe. We will use it again later in our unit!
Activity 2: Let’s demonstrate the orbit of the earth around the sun with this simple activity. (You can also use this method to discuss the moon’s orbit around the earth in tomorrow’s lesson.)
(+) Need a little help discussing orbit with a child who wants to know more? Try this video.
Activity 3: Play a memory game to learn the names of the planets and other spheres in our solar system. Using the same planet card print-out from activity 1, print pages 3-5 two times. Cut and laminate the sheets to make playing cards. Place all cards face down and alternate taking turns with your child to find matches. Identify each planet as you play the game to reinforce the names. If your child seems engaged, provide one fact about each planet as you play.
Let’s get lost in the stars! Begin by reading the story A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars. If you have a clear night tonight, bring your child outside before bed and take a look at the stars to bring the lesson to life. ⭐️ Review all the day’s activities and talk about the constellations while you stargaze. (Cloudy night? No problem—this video can help teach them more about constellations.)
Activity 1: Constellation Lacing Project. Print two copies.
Activity 2: Create a constellation diorama. Using black construction paper, line the inside of a medium-sized box. Use chalk or a white crayon or marker and the constellation cards from the activity above to draw real star patterns inside the box. Once you have finished decorating the inside of your box, put your model solar system from Lesson 1 into the box and complete your diorama of the solar system.
***We want to see your space dioramas! Post a photo on Instagram with #learnandliveletter and tag @learnandliveletter!
Activities 3: Constellation hole punch craft. That link shows you how to do the activity, but you can use the second set constellation cards you printed for the lacing project to do this as well—just use a pin instead of a hole punch to create smaller holes. Be sure to put a cutting board or other protective surface beneath the paper before your child starts poking holes.
Bonus activity: Want more? Bake up these constellation cookies for a sweet treat you can eat while you stargaze.
Let’s learn more about our moon. Begin by reading The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons. This video also helps to teach kids about other moons in our solar system.
(+) Older kids will also enjoy this video for more!
Activity 1: Cookie Moon Phases. Print out pages 10-12 from this link to guide you in creating your own moon phases using sandwich cookies. This print out from Stephanie Hathaway can also be helpful.
(+) Want to create a more realistic model of the moon phases? This moon phase box demonstrates how light impacts the moon we see.
Activity 2: Moon Rocks. Use this activity to practice fine motor skills and letter recognition.
(+) Instead of letters, write sight words or digraphs (two letters that make one sound) on each rock. Here’s a quick list of two letter sounds you could include: sh, ch, th, pl, wh, ph, qu, and ck.
Activity 3: Moon craters are clearly seen from earth. But how did they get there? This article helps explain it. Then demonstrate how it happens with this activity.
(+) To upgrade the activity, add a layer of cocoa powder over your flour mixture. Then, try dropping items of different weights (coins, a rubber ball, a marshmallow) to see what kind of impact they make. Measure the depth of the crater with a ruler. (Don’t have one? Print one here!) Have your older child chart the results like this:
|Item||Did it make an impact (Y/N)||Depth of crater|
Travel to outer space was a huge accomplishment. It took a lot of people working together to get people and satellites into space. Let’s learn about a few of the famous people who helped make a famous trips to space a success! Read the book Hidden Figures to learn more about the Black woman that played an integral part in these historic accomplishments. Next, talk to your kids about the men who traveled to the moon with the help of this real footage of Apollo 11 taking off from earth, landing on the moon, taking the moonwalk, and returning to earth.
Activity 1: Make a rocket craft. (You can add your finished rocket to your diorama!)
Activity 2: Build this rocket puzzle to practice shapes (trapezoids, squares, triangles and rectangles). Add letters to your pieces (like this) to help your child practice spelling their name. You can skip the magnet backings for this activity unless you want to do them. Simply cut the shapes on the foam sheets (or you can use cardstock) ahead of time and have them ready for your child to build and play with.
Activity 3: S is for Spaceship worksheet.
(-) Modify for younger children with this A is for astronaut worksheet
(+) Need more? This space-themed writing practice worksheet is an out-of-this-world upgrade.
Activity 4: Number writing practice. Print pages 3 and 4 from this free download to practice counting and writing numbers 1-9.
(+) Want more writing and number practice? Print the whole packet—then break up the worksheets and do one to two a day for the next week, or as many as your child is engaged in doing!
For our art lesson this week, let’s look at one of the most famous paintings in the world, Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. (Here’s a cheat sheet about it if your child has extra questions!) This famous oil painting depicts a beautiful night sky with some bright colors and shapes that will be easily recognized by kids. Talk about how the artist might have created those shapes as you look closely at the small brush strokes.
If you would like to add a little music to your lesson, this song by Don McLean (“Starry, Starry, Night”) was inspired by the painting. Play it while you do your crafts today!
Activity 1: Now that we have been inspired by Van Gogh, let’s make some art with this craft.
(-) Need something simpler? This foil and paint craft is perfect for little learners.
(+) Ready for more? Try this Starry Night inspired melted crayon craft.
Activity 2: Star Wars music lesson. One of the most iconic space movies had an unforgettable theme—play it for your child and discuss it! A song written for a film or a movie is called a film score. John Williams was the composer. He also composed songs for a lot of other films your child may or may not know (yet!).
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