Our semester-long planet project~we made all the paper-mache planets the first week of
school, and now we paint and hang a new one each week as we study it.
Hi Friends!
We’re having a great time adventuring through space this semester with Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy curriculum.
I cannot recommend this curriculum highly enough.  We have been enjoying it so, so much, supplementing our text with tons of “living books” right from the library, and doing many additional hands-on activities at each “stop” we make as we travel through our solar system.  One thing I love is that we are getting such an in-depth science experience this year–half our year will be spent on Astronomy alone, then the other half on Botany, and that means better retention of what we are learning. As long as we stick with Apologia Science, we’ll loop back around to study Astronomy again in 4 years.
 
We started our year off by studying the sun, then headed on to Mercury, then Venus, Earth, the Moon, Mars, and this past week we finished up our chapter on the Asteroid Belt & Space Rocks.  From here, we’re moving on to the outer planets

I don’t always have time to share all the space activities we do, but today I thought I’d show you a picture of our paper-mache planets so far because they *just* look so awesome now that we’ve got several of them done and hanging together!  
This is our BIG science project for the semester, but I’ll be doing a separate post on it at another time.  It’s just exciting to see our progress, and I thought I’d share it with you.  
Also, I wanted to share a couple of fantastic activities we did for the moon.
First, we explored the phases of the moon using oreo cookies.  What yummy fun this was!

My kids used knives and toothpicks to scrape off the filling to show each phase.

 

Sometimes no tools were needed…
Here’s Joshua licking his way to a new moon. 

What a great activity and now even my two year old loves identifying the moon’s phases every time he spots it in the sky (he usually gets it right, too!).

The other activity we did in conjunction with space exploration and the voyages to the moon was this mixed media artwork of a rocket heading to the moon.
My four year old and six year old both made one, and both loved it.

We used a large piece of black construction paper for the background.
We built a rocket using a cardboard tube (which we made a cone top for and wrapped the whole thing in tin foil). 
We glued on ribbons for the rocket’s flames.
We made a moon by gluing tiny balled up pieces of cream colored paper onto a canning lid. 

We then glued the rocket and moon down, and blinged it out with confetti & sticker stars.  It was my daughter’s idea to add glitter to turn some stars into “shooting stars” (which of course are not stars at all, but meteorites). 

One thing my first grader also added was the little earth in the distance and the trail showing the rocket’s path.  There happened to be a green crayon stain on her (super old) piece of construction paper, and she decided to turn it into an earth!  What a great idea. 

The other difference between hers and my 4 year old’s art work was that we used tape to secure his rocket in place instead of glue because he wanted the option to play with it.  🙂

Another fun thing I found last time I was at Hobby Lobby was this cute moon rover with magnetized wheels.  This guy can crawl up and down the fridge and the kids love it.

Finally, we have been using our Celestron telescope each and every week to view the moon from the backyard.  Just absolutely amazing…for moms and dads AND kids alike.  …and neighbors and friends….It’s true that many people have never even looked into a telescope, so it’s been great to share our scope with others.
 

And very often, long after the kids are in bed, this mama enjoys sneaking outside with the scope all by myself to marvel at the skies above.  So far, it’s been a great (and very affordable) investment for our whole family.
But even with the naked eye, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time staring up at the heavens these past weeks.  We’re learning our way around a TINY bit by identifying the constellations, and we’ve also located Venus and Jupiter, which has been awesome too (hey, this is exciting stuff for amateur astronomers!). 

Here in the Pittsburgh area, we have a good bit of “light pollution” which doesn’t always make star gazing very easy. 

It sure makes me wonder how incredible it must have been to live hundreds of years ago when the night skies would have been so spectacularly breathtaking.  Nowadays, many of us never even look up when we go outside at night.  Back then, you probably couldn’t help it.

 

Our dazzling glitter galaxy

 

Mid-semester progress~looking back at all we’ve studied so far:
The Asteroid Belt, Mars, the Moon, Earth, Venus, Mercury (and the Sun). 

Ok, that’s it for now.
Happy Learning, & see you around the solar system, friends!  🙂