Of all the topics I've Googled during my midnight lesson planning sessions, never have I found so many AWESOME (and totally free) resources as I have for the topic of astronomy! Here are a few of my favorites...
I love the critical thinking challenge this activity provides. Don't worry, there is an answer key provided by NASA!
2 Awesome Moon Phase Lesson Plans (and other topics too). You will need to click on "Favorite Science Activities on the left side of the site, and then click on "Observing Lunar Phases." If you teach any of these lessons and have an interactive whiteboard, then be sure to use these great visuals too:
Click on the picture to explore three interactive visual tools for teaching your students' moon phases!
A visual for showing when and where we see the moon in the sky at night (and sometimes during the day).
Another great critical thinking activity! This would make a great critical input experience or possibly a learning center station.
Grab a blanket, some popcorn and your star wheel printable for a family fun night of star gazing.
Perfect addition to day and night and seasonal change lessons.
7Astronomy Fact Scavenger Hunt Printable
My colleague found this one and set it up in the hallway outside our science rooms. The kids LOVED searching for the facts, which was a great way to activate prior knowledge for my 6th graders. She came up with the clever idea of NOT numbering the clue cards so that kids had to apply their reading skills to make connections between the facts and the 18 questions. Genius!
8 Find the Right Circle Galaxy Lesson Printable
Students compare, contrast and categorize different types of galaxies. I love the middle school science lessons created by NASA. They allow for such thoughtful exploration on behalf of the students!
(and a few links to other printable materials that go with the lesson) Another great NASA lesson, which uses some of the same materials as the previous lesson.
This one seems pretty popular online. There are quite a few lessons out there using the idea of addressing a "galactic postcard or cosmic letter," but I really like this one because of the small printable images that students can use to visualize their place in space. These would fit perfectly into an interactive science journal! The only thing missing is a more authentic looking postcard. (No offense but the one included is a little plain for my taste!) Here is one that I typed up to go with this lesson.
I'd be happy to email the postcard pdf and or word document (in case you want to edit for your liking) to blog followers who leave their address or who send me an email request for it. Also, I have a graphic organizer that seemed to really help my special needs students with learning the vocabulary needed to understand the galactic address lesson. The document includes the graphic organizer (see image below) and some matching cards to review the concepts.
The document is really simple, concrete and was a good fit for a few of my special education students. Shoot me an email or leave your address in a comment and I would be happy to send it to you!
During my online quest for awesome astronomy resources I also stumbled upon a pretty interesting astronomy book. Author Jeffrey Bennett has some children's books about astronomy, however I am particularly intrigued after reading the preface to On the Cosmic Horizon. In the free pdf book sample (which you can read by clicking the image ), he uses a postcard to describe our place in the universe and then begins to introduce the background for the book's 10 astronomical mysteries such as "What is the universe made of?" and "Are Earth-like planets common?" This book has officially made my summer reading list!
The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
--Eden Phillpotts (1862-1960)
With all this astronomy fun, I've managed to map out my plans through the end of the school year....YAHOO...5....4...3....2...1 Counting down the days until we BLAST OFF to summer!