Monday, September 5, 2011

Outer Space / Letter S Unit

Let me start off by apologizing for the lack of posts recently. We’ve just had so much going on behind the scenes lately that I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed by life. For privacy reasons, and because I prefer to focus on the positives, I doubt I’ll be sharing much of that here, but hopefully things will be back to normal soon. And there may even be some good news coming out of all this chaos!

But without further ado, here are the activities we did in our Outer Space / Letter Ss unit:

We made sponge comets and had fun with some space-themed water play.


Dude used our mini foam letter tiles to spell out some words that start with S.


We made a Sun in a bottle and talked about the composition of our closest star.


Dude used his finger to erase S’s I drew on a white board.


Then moved on to drawing his own S’s in our salt box.


We used a flashlight to discuss perspective and the sizes & distances to the Sun and other stars.


We made Sun Prints and talked about the importance of protecting our skin from the Sun.


We used the planet cutouts and planets mini-book from our Space Lapbook, along with some space flashcards from the Target dollar spot to put the planets in order, discuss ordinal number words (first, second, etc.) and learn a little about each planet.


Dude used clothespins for some fine motor work while doing the beginning sounds cards, also from the Space Lapbook.


We played several games of space dominoes while using some space vocabulary words. These are also in the Space Lapbook.


I’m so NOT a glitter fan, but I’ve also accepted that it’s an essential part of preschool, so I let Dude go crazy making his own night sky using glitter and glue. Yep, he loved it!



I introduced Dude to the hundreds chart. I had outlined the numbers 1-10 in green and gave him corresponding Duplo legos with masking tape numbers on them to count and connect. I can’t remember where I printed the hundred chart, but if you google it I’m sure you can find more than a couple.


He did his Letter Hunt worksheet in his new Dry Erase Activity Center . We're really liking this tool.


We had some star shaped pony beads, so I set up this patterning & lacing activity for Dude. He was very proud of his completed necklace.


Dude did some sound sorting with the cards from here & here. We used a pocket chart just to mix things up a little.


Dude colored this phonics coloring page, and glued on pictures of things that start with letter S. (Both of these printables are from Homeschool Creations. I printed the images at 50% of normal size.) We also looked through a grocery ad to spot some more S words to add. He found soup, soap, & strawberries.


Random stickering with stars & smiles


Doing his Letter Builders


Dude matched up the Space Vocab cards from his Space Lapbook. I also pulled out the flashcards from our target $1 deck that matched so he could see some real pictures as we discussed the terms. I had intended for us to later play memory with these cards, but we never got around to it.


We attempted this neat Moon craft. Ours didn’t quite turn out, but you can learn from my mistakes by reading my Moon Craft Flop post.


I disassembled the Countdown Book from our Space Lapbook and Dude counted out star stickers for each number page.


We made spaghetti for dinner one night, so I let Dude make S’s (and other letters) with some extra noodles. My son can be quite particular about the textures he’s willing to touch, so I like to include sensory activities like this whenever possible.


We tried this Constellation Copying Worksheet, but Dude wasn’t really into it. I think it would have gone over better if he was a more confident writer. My son tends to be a perfectionist when it comes to putting pen/pencil to paper, so writing can be very frustrating for him. His Dry Erase Activity Center seems to be helping since it’s so easy to erase, but this is one area where I’ve stepped way back and am just letting him figure it out in his own time. The last thing I want to do is frustrate him.


We made our own DIY Moon Sand and did a crater making experiment in our kitchen. Dude loved this!



We added some Space Accessories to our DIY Moon and I set up a space themed sensory & pretend play area for Dude. You can read more about that HERE.



Another day I gave Dude all the pages of the Countdown Book from his Space Lapbook and a loose leaf ring clip and let him order the pages and assemble the book himself.


The removable rocket on the last page was a big hit!


I found these star shaped ice cube trays at the thrift store and set up this fine motor & reasoning activity for Dude. I put pom-poms into one tray and then gave him coordinating pom-poms and children’s chopstick to use for recreating my arrangement in the other tray.


We used the Moon Phase Chart & cards from our Space Lapbook to put the moon phases in order and talk about how the appearance of the Moon varies.


Dude led his astronaut to the Moon. Nothing too fancy here, just a little practice with alphabetical order and letter recognition. This was the back page of the Space Lapbook.

We tried using a hammer and nail to punch holes in a tin can and make our own constellations. This was harder than I expected and I actually had to make starter holes for Dude. He still loved it though. We took it into a closet and put a flashlight underneath, so we could see our shining stars and newly named constellation. (BTW, I just have a standard hand crank can opener, but by using it to go around the can a couple more times after the end was already off, I was able to get a dull, safe edge.)



I tried to teach Dude how to do a somersault. You know, tuck your chin, arch your back and roll. Well, let’s just say we’ve still got some work to do on mastering this skill. There was more flopping than rolling :)


And of course as usual there was lots of reading going on. Here are my outer space book recommendations:

Notes: -We used the Earth & Space Usbourne book for reference. It's an older title and includes info on much more than just space.
-I'd recommend the Magic School Bus book for slightly older kids (elementary age) but Dude (3yrs)just loves them.

I also let Dude watch the Magic School Bus: Space Adventures DVD.
This is the DVD we own, but you can also purchase the entire Magic School Bus: The Complete Series set for a pretty good price, which includes episodes on the solar system (#1), space rocks (#24), and stars (#46).

Oh, and if you own this Solar System Floor Puzzle and you're doing a unit on space, it'd be a good opportunity to pull it out.
(Note to self: We own this!)
I hate it when I do that.

Thanks for following along!

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  1. Wow! The great ideas are never ending....I especially like the constellations in a can.

  2. Hi, I can't believe I haven't found your blog till now. Thanks for the great ideas. I teach a class of 5 year old's in New Zealand and I am definitely using some of these for our 'Discovery' sessions that I run with my pre-school visitors. I want to study space next term, and now I have even more ideas. Thanks. (Am making your fire collage soon too as part of our Firewise unit).

  3. I just stopped by your blog and was so excited to see this post, we are starting Space next week! Some great ideas ! Thanks!


Thanks for your comments!

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