Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Thematic Unit: Space

The topic of 'Space' offers great scope for integration across the Primary School Curriculum. Here are some tried and tested lessons based on the theme for senior classes (I taught them to 5th, however they can easily be adapted for younger classes too):

Geography: The Solar System:
Create a KWL on the solar system. Explore and quiz the children on this PowerPoint from Seomra Ranga, which gives useful, simple information on each planet. Divide the children into groups and give each a planet (or another topic like stars and constellations, etc) to research over the week and create a project on. 

Geography: Stars and Constellations: 
Discuss prior knowledge with the children and then go through the activities and discussion points in this PowerPoint:
PE/Music: Creative Dance:
Create an Outer Space themed creative dance sequence using the lesson outline provided on page 72 of the Teacher Guidelines. Revise different shapes, pathways and travelling movements with them before you begin teaching this dance. The dance itself is divided up into three different segments:
  1. Countdown, explosion and take off: Encourage them to stay in the one place on the floor for the countdown and explosion, while using their bodies to show a build up of energy (shaking,
    flame movements, etc). Get them to take off and form groups of 5 with the first child forming a rocket front with his hands and discuss how the rocket moves through space slowly and gracefully. I like to use music from Star Wars for this section of the dance: John Williams – Anakin vs. Obi-Wan.
  2. Landing on the planet Zor and exploring it: The children join together as a long rocket and then separate into two groups. One half of the children fall to the ground as if landing, lying flat. The rest of the 'rocket' makes its way off the 'stage'. As they begin to rise, get them to perform actions, struggling with the effects of gravity. The theme music from X-Files is a suitable piece of music for this section of the dance.
  3. The Death Dance of the Whirly Gums: Read the poem with the children and discuss and create various movements to portray the poem in pairs, ending with the death dance. I like to use John Williams - The Asteroid Field to accompany this section.
Perform the dance with a clear start and end point and ensure all sections run smoothly from one to the next.

Art: The Solar System:
Use the song above to learn the order of planets in the solar system. Discuss the colours and textures of the 8 planets so they can recreate them as accurately as possible. Create a solar system picture using oil pastels for the planets and a black wash for the background.
They can also create 3D Papier-mâché planets like these:

Science: Light:
Explore this PowerPoint (as far as slide 17), discussing ideas and doing the experiments discussed along the way :
In the following lesson, you can go through this PowerPoint and set of experiments on refraction and colour mixing:
Light: Refraction and Colour Mixing from SeniorInfants

If you are looking for lesson ideas for teaching younger children all about space, check out my post for Senior Infant Adventures on The Sun, Moon and Stars

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