Level 2: Outer Space Unit

Let’s shoot for the stars this week! Outer space is often one of children’s favorite topics to learn about, and we’ve packed this unit with play-based science, math, literacy, gross motor skill work, and more to help your little one dream big. Want to track your progress? Click here to download our tracking document.

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for children ready for more of a challenge). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) symbol.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

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!

Lesson 1:

Let’s begin our journey through the stars with a look at the planets.

Activity 1: Download and print the Space Flash Cards and Planet Fact Cards linked on this page on white cardstock. (You can also print the moon phase cards for tomorrow!) Cut them out (you may also want to laminate them) and play a game of memory with them. When you find a match, share the facts from the card with your child. Once all the matches are found, help them put the cards in the correct order. You can also play this song for your child to help them memorize the order.

Activity 2: Next, let’s bolster your child’s understanding of the order with a hands-on literacy activity. Download, print and laminate (if possible) both pages of this printable. Then, cut out the planets and add Velcro dots to the planets and the gray circles on the first page. Work with your child to attach the planets in the correct order. If they know the planets well, they will likely be able to place them in the correct order by recognizing their popular characteristics. But if they aren’t familiar with the order, prompt them by using descriptive words to identify the planet. For example: Can you find a small rust colored planet? Once they are in the right order use a dry erase marker (if laminated) to write the name of the planet under each one. Let them use the flash cards from activity one to check their spelling for each planet’s name.

Activity 3: Of course, you and your child may notice that there is one very notable exception to the updated list of the planets…Pluto! Let’s learn more about why Pluto is no longer considered a planet (and what it is now) by reading Pluto Gets the Call. Next, listen to this song to learn more about other dwarf planets.

Activity 4: We talked about dwarf planets…now let’s talk about giant ones! The biggest planets in our solar system are gas giants. Let’s explore more about gas with this experiment.

Lesson 2:

Earth may be our favorite planet, but it would be nothing without our moon! Let’s start learning about our planet’s lunar bestie with the book Moon! Earth’s Best Friend.

Activity 1: Let’s look closer at the moon’s phases. Get out the moon phase cards you printed and work on this sweet activity.

Activity 2: Every now and then, the moon does something really cool: It causes an eclipse! Watch this video to learn more about it, and then do this simple craft to demonstrate how an eclipse works.

Activity 3: Finally, let’s demonstrate just how big space is with the activity in this post. Download her printable to get the planet pictures and instructions for how to create the scale model.

Lesson 3:

We love planets and moon, but one of our favorite things in space is the stars! Let’s learn about a real woman who dreamt of seeing the stars up close—and overcame some major challenges to get there—in Mae Among the Stars.

Activity 1: For centuries, people have looked to the stars like Mae. Many even saw pictures there! They called these constellations. Let’s learn more about them in this video. Print the constellation cards in this post, but instead of sewing, let’s work those fine motor skills by building the constellations using mini marshmallows and pretzel sticks (or toothpicks).

Activity 2: Another celestial body that often gets confused for a star? The comet! Let’s learn what they really are in this video. Then, make your own comet with this tutorial and “fly” it around your house or yard!

Activity 3: Let’s bring the constellations to life! On a dark night, take your child outside to find the constellations in your area. This app for iPhones and this one for Android devices can help you spot them.

Lesson 4:

Ever wonder how we know so much about space? You can thank an astrophysicist (AKA, a scientist who studies the universe and our place in it) for that. Today, read Starstruck to learn about famous astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Activity 1: Astrophysicists use telescopes to study our galaxy and beyond. This video explains how one of our most powerful telescopes, the Hubble telescope, works. Next, share the information in this post with your child and make your own telescope with the craft.

Activity 2: Slap planet subtraction. Let’s work on some subtraction with playdough! You can either mix two bright colors (like red and yellow) to create a planetary playdough, or make this “black hole” space playdough. When your playdough is ready, set your child up at a table or on a hard surface with the playdough and some paper and a pencil. Write a subtraction problem using numbers 1-20 on the paper (for example, “9 – 5 =”). Have your child create nine planets by rolling the playdough into balls (or “black holes”—use whatever story you think will engage your child best) and line them up. Then, have them “smash” five to subtract them. The number of remaining unsmashed balls is the answer, which you can have your child write or you can scribe for them.

Activity 3: For this week’s art lesson, let’s look at a sculptor who thought on a different plane, too. Alexander Calder is an American three-dimensional artist known for his mobiles, or works of art that move. You can read some interesting facts about him here to share with your child. Next, let’s look at one if his modern art sculptures here, called “A Universe.” That link also shares more information about the piece. As you look at it, ask your child some of these questions:

  • Why do you think he wanted his sculptures to move? (You can see some of them in motion in this video!)
  • What makes this different from a sculpture that you must walk around to see?
  • Sometimes, Calder used motors to make his sculptures move (as he did with, “A Universe”). Other times, the air flow would make them move. Do you feel a part of the art if you are able to affect the art? (For example, when you walk into the room, you cause air movement and your movement could cause the art to move!) 
  • Some of his art is huge and hangs from the ceiling of huge museums! You can walk right underneath it. How is that different from how you experience most art?

Finally, let’s make our own hanging art with these pretty planet sun catchers.

Activity 4: And if you need some copywork inspiration, try this famous quote from another space explorer: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Here’s a short video about that historic mission if you want to learn more!)

Lesson 5:

Let’s end our final day of outer space with a bang—literally!

Activity 1: Before take-off, let’s practice some number writing with this countdown printable.

Activity 2: Next, limber up before the launch with these space-themed gross motor movement dice. (You don’t need the plastic dice, just draw cards.)

Activity 3: Let’s set the mood before take-off with a 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!).

***Get more tips on how to turn a song into a lesson here!

Activity 4: It’s time for take-off! Make these balloon rockets—you can even make a few and race them! This video also helps explain the science behind how the rockets work.
(+) Ready for an upgrade? Here’s how to make a bottle rocket at home. Blast off!

Bonus activity: End the week on a sweet, interstellar treat by baking up these cosmic cookies!

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Published by learnandliveletter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-11.

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