Tag Archives: space

celebrating man's first moon walk

Celebrating Man’s First Moon Walk – readilearn

Celebrating man’s first moon walk in the classroom with ideas for reading, writing, maths, science, technology, and history.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of man’s first moon walk. On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first man to place foot on the moon. Buzz Aldrin joined him shortly after and they spent just over two hours together outside the spacecraft.

Since then another ten astronauts, all of whom were American men, have walked on the moon. The six crewed moon landings took place between 1969 and 1972.

Celebrations of the first moon landing are taking place around the world. You can check out NASA events here and NASA resources for educators here.

The way you celebrate the event in your classroom can be big or small. Here are a few easy-to-implement suggestions for different subject areas:

Ideas for the classroom

Critical thinking

When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, he said, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Ask children to give their opinions about the intended message of Neil Armstrong’s words. Were his words effective? How else could it be expressed?

Writing
  • If I were an astronaut

Continue reading: Celebrating Man’s First Moon Walk – readilearn

Introducing co-authors Brenda Miles and Susan Sweet – Readilearn

Brenda Miles and Susan Sweet

This month I have great pleasure in introducing you to two fine authors, Brenda S. Miles and Susan D. Sweet, who co-wrote the wonderful picture book Cinderstella: A Tale of Planets Not Princes.

With both World Space Week and International Day of the Girl Child just a few weeks away, I couldn’t think of a better book and authors to spotlight this month. This year’s theme for World Space Week is “Exploring new worlds and space”, and the theme for International Day of the Girl Child is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls.”

princes and parties

Cinderstella sees no prince in her happily ever after. She’d rather be an astronaut exploring space. Challenging the role of girls as portrayed in traditional fairy tales, Cinderstella determines to take control of her own destiny and be what she wants to be in a universe of unlimited possibilities. The story encourages girls, and boys, to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and break the limits imposed by gender stereotypes and biases.

Continue reading: Introducing co-authors Brenda Miles and Susan Sweet – Readilearn

A view from space

Next week sees two celebrations:

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World Space Week from 4 – 10 October, and

World Teachers’ Day on 5 October.

On the readilearn blog this week there are 20 quick suggestions for teaching and learning about space in an early childhood classroom, as well as a bookmark that can be printed and given as a gift to a special teacher.

Readilearn bookmark

This post is republished from the readilearn blog.

Since its inauguration in 1999, World Space Week has been celebrated each year from 4 to 10 October. Its purpose is to celebrate the “contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”. The dates were chosen to commemorate the launch of Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957 and the Outer Space Treaty signed on 10 October 1967.

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This year’s theme is “Remote Sensing: Enabling Our Future” which focuses on the contribution of observations from space to our knowledge of the world, including our ability to

  • monitor changes in the environment, and
  • understand and predict weather patterns,
  • which in turn assists planning for agriculture and helps to prepare for weather events.

World Space Week has a free downloadable Teacher Activity Guide for classes from K – 12. While many of the activities are more suited to older students, there are some that can be adapted for the early grades.

There are no particular requirements for participation. You choose how to involve yourself and your students. Or, better still, introduce the topic to the children and see where their questions and suggestions lead. Contemplating the skies and what lies beyond has excited imaginations since the beginning of human time. Why not give your children the opportunity to wonder, imagine, and create?

If you have neither the flexibility nor the time to explore “space’ in depth, here are a few suggestions for incorporating learning about space in your busy program:

space-week-display

  • Cover a large display board or wall with dark blue paper. (Each child could paint a piece of A3 paper to contribute to the background.) Add the children’s wonderings, questions, ideas, suggestions, pictures, and writing to the display.
  • Ask children what they wonder about space, and record their wonderings. Many of their wonderings will match those of philosophers and scientists throughout history; for example, “Yen wonders if people live in outer space. Jan wonders what Earth looks like from space. Margot wonders how long it would take to get to the sun.” This is not a time for answers. It is a time for questions. If children are writers, you could supply them with (star-shaped) sticky notes on which to write their wonderings, one per note. Display the wonderings.
  • Record what children want to know about space. This is also a time for questions, and not for answers. There will be time for answers later. It is important for children to know that their questions are both valid and valued; for example, “Marcos wants to know what happens to the stars during the day. Tejas wants to know where the sun goes at night.”
  • Record what children already know, or think they know, about space, space exploration,

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Thank you

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Reading is out of this world!

Space-Sketched

Reading is a wonderful pastime. Since you are reading this blog I am sure you will agree.

People read for many different reasons, including:

  • for information e.g. about world events or something of interest, to find out what’s on offer, how to do something, or the time and place to catch a bus,
  • to be challenged e.g. by philosophical or ethical arguments and viewpoints
  • to stay in touch e.g. through letters, emails, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media
  • to be enthralled by a story or delighted by poetic words and imagery
  • to escape the everyday.

I am certain you could add to the list in breadth and specificity without too much trouble.

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Developing a lifelong habit, if not love, of reading is important to fully function in society. The “bug” is more easily caught in early childhood but can be developed at any stage throughout life when its rewards become apparent.

Nor and Bec readingI have previously shared ideas about the importance of talking with and reading to young children, including here and here.

Another highly influential factor in creating readers is for children to see adults engaged in reading for real purposes, for information and pleasure; and having the opportunity to discuss the purposes of, and ways of reading, different material e.g. the way we read a menu is different from the way we read a story or a newspaper.

peole_computer

Additionally, it is useful for children to realise that the importance of reading extends beyond the home. There may be opportunities for them to observe people reading in the workplace or to discuss the need for reading in different roles.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Another important aspect of reading that I have previously discussed, using ”The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle as an example here, is critical literacy, the ability to interrogate the veracity of the information, its source and author.

I recently read discussions about difficulty experienced incorporating non-fiction material, especially science information, into classroom reading programs. I was a bit blown away by this because I believe that children will be interested in anything and everything if it is presented in an interesting way.

An information book doesn’t have to be read all at once, from cover to cover in any particular order. It can be dipped into, pored over, or explored bit by bit.

Sometimes information can be found in a work of fiction, but it is important, as cautioned with “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, to check the source and the “facts”.

So to tie together the elements discussed above, these are important elements for motivating children to read:

  • Talking with them about things of interest to them
  • Reading to them
  • Modelling and discussing positive reading habits
  • Demonstrating the importance of reading
  • Discussing the importance of not believing everything that is read and of evaluating the source of the information and the intent of the author

In my exploration this week of one of my favourite educational websites, edutopia, I discovered through a post written by Ben Johnson and called When Astronauts Read Aloud Children’s Stories – From Space! a site that met many of the above criteria: Story Time From Space

Story Time From Space features astronauts on the space station reading story books to children. At the moment there is one story available, but more are planned, as are teaching suggestions and activities, including experiments.

The story, Max Goes to the International Space Station is the first of a series of five stories written by Dr. Jeffrey Bennett who describes himself as “an astronomer by training and a teacher by trade, but currently spend most of my time as a writer.”

In his post, Johnson expands on that, describing Bennett as “a research associate at the University of Colorado Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, … (who) has worked at the California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratories and NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.” He goes on to say that “Dr. Bennett strives to write books that are factually correct, fun, and interesting for students to read.” The experiments that the astronauts do will correspond to those in the books.

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While parts of the Story Time From Space site are still “coming”, I think this project has great potential for motivating children to read and for inspiring an interest in the world and beyond. Being read a story by an astronaut isn’t something that happens every day!

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

Counting on the holidays!

algebra

When the topic “Maths” is mentioned in conversation among adults, including teachers, many of them moan, “I hate maths. It’s too abstract. I could never understand it. I can’t see the point in it.”

I think it is a sad situation that many such adults were turned off maths in school by teachers who didn’t introduce them to the beauty of maths, who didn’t teach maths in the context of real-life purposes and whose pedagogical kit bag was entirely filled with worksheets of meaningless and endless algorithms to complete.

I am one of those adults too. In my final years of high school I had a “teacher” who could do the math but couldn’t teach the math; couldn’t explain the why or the how, or any of the steps required to achieve understanding. Maths became an impenetrable forest of meaningless algorithms, formulae and theorems.

As both a parent and teacher of young children, I was determined to not be an instrument of math torture. Granted this may be easier with young children than it is with older students, but I’m sure there are still ways of making maths fun and meaningful in high school classrooms.

The suggestions in this article provide parents of young children with ways of finding maths in everyday contexts and incorporating mathematical learning effortlessly into holiday activities. Of course, the activities are of benefit at any time, not just during the holidays!

If you don’t have young children to inspire, or inspire you, please move on to the end of the article for some suggestions to excite your own interest in maths!

Although the word “counting” appears in the title, it is important to remember that maths is not just counting.

The strands of maths as described by The Australian Curriculum include:

  • Number and place value
  • Patterns and algebra
  • Measurement and geometry
  • Probability and statistics

My list includes just a few suggestions for each of those strands to get you started. Need I say there is an infinite number of possibilities?

25 ways to keep children thinking mathematically during the holidays:

Number and place value

  1. Count items e.g. birds in the sky, shells collected from the beach, people for lunch, steps in a staircase, windows on a house, seats in a bus . . .
  2. Count out the cutlery required for each person at dinner
  3. Include your child in shopping activities by helping them to:
    • Recognise the coins and notes
    • Count the value of coins and notes
    • Predict whether they have enough money to purchase an item, and whether there will be change
    • Tender the money in payment for an item
  4. When your child is sharing e.g. the biscuits, balloons or slices of fruit, ask them to:
    • Predict if there will be enough for everyone to have one, or more than one each
    • Share out the items, allocating the same number to each
    • Determine if there are any left over and what to do with them
  5. Use terms like half and quarter correctly, e.g. when cutting apples, oranges, sandwiches, pizza, to indicate pieces of equal size
  6. Play games that involve counting, e.g. counting the number of skips, balls in hoops, pins knocked down or dice games like snakes and ladders that require adding as well as number recognition and counting
  7. Make up number stories e.g. “We had five apples in the bowl. I ate one, and you ate one, how many are left?” “
  8. Read books with number concepts e.g. Pat Hutchins The Doorbell Rang, Eric Carle Rooster’s off to see the world  or Kim Michelle Toft One Less Fish

doorbell rang

Rooster's off to see world

One less fish

Patterns and algebra

  1. Use items to make patterns e.g. sort and create a pattern from shells collected at the beach, building blocks or toy cars
  2. Look for patterns in the environment e.g. fences, tiles, walls and window, zebra crossings
  3. Decorate cards and drawings with a patterned frame
  4. Make gift wrapping paper by decorating with potato prints or stamp patterns

Measurement and geometry

  1. Include your child in cooking activities and allow or support them to:
  • measure the ingredientscooking-man
  • set the temperature on the oven
  • work out the cooking finish time

2.  A child’s understanding of volume and capacity can be developed when they:

  • pour glasses of water from the jug and discuss terms such as enough, full, empty, half or part full, more, less
  • pour from one container into another of a different shape to compare which holds more and which holds less

3.  Scales can be used to compare the mass of different items or quantities e.g. compare an apple and an orange, measure the mass of butter required for a recipe

4.  Measuring length can be included by:

  • measuring and comparing height
  • cutting a length of string to tie a package
  • measuring who is closest to the jack in a backyard game of lawn bowls

5.  Use the calendar to

  • Learn the names and sequence of days in the week or months in the year
  • count the passing days or the number of days until an event

6.  Identify shapes in the home and environment e.g.

  • 2D shapes: tiles on floor and walls, shapes of windows, sections of footpath
  • 3D shapes: cereal boxes (rectangular prism), balls (sphere), bottles or cans (cylinder), dice (cube)

7.  Play games that involve shapes e.g. jigsaw puzzles, tangrams

8.  Talk about directions e.g. left, right, forwards, backwards and follow directions on a grid

9.  Play games that involve directions and movement in space e.g. battleship, Hokey Pokey, Simon Says, snakes and ladders, ludo

10.  Read and discuss books that include measurement concepts e.g. Pamela Allen: Who Sank the Boat? (volume); Eric Carle: The Very Hungry Caterpillar (days of the week) and The Bad Tempered Ladybird (time); Penny Matthews and Andrew McLean A Year on our Farm (months and seasons); and for looking at places on a map Mem Fox Sail Away The ballad of Skip and Nell or Annette Langen & Constanza Droop Letters from Felix

who sank the boat

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

A year on our farm

sail awayLetters from Felix

Probability and statistics

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  1. When discussing the weather or desired activities include the language of probability e.g. possible, certain, likely, unlikely, impossible
  2. Encourage children to collect data about family or friends by asking yes/no questions e.g. do you like swimming, or making a graph of the family’s favourite colour or meal.
  3. Play games with spinners and dice and talk about the likelihood of spinning or throwing a particular number

This list is really just a beginning. I’m sure you will add many more suggestions of your own.

For your convenience, the list is available to download FREE in my TEACHERSpayTEACHERS store.

As promised I will leave you with a few suggestions to spark your own interest in and love of maths. Be sure to check them out:

These are must listen TED talks by Arthur Benjamin:

The magic of Fibonacci numbers

and A performance of “Mathemagic”

 And a fascinating one for the Christmas season “The 12 days of Pascal’s triangular Christmas” by Michael Rose on The Conversation.

If you want to delve a bit deeper, here are some interesting reads to get you started:

Charles Seife Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Mario Livio The Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI, The World’s Most Astonishing Number

Rozsa Peter Playing with Infinity: Mathematical Explorations and Excursions

I listened to the biography of zero on audiobooks this year. It was a fascinating listen.

What do you think of maths? Do you love it or hate it?

I hope you enjoy your adventures in maths! A world of possibilities awaits!