Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Slinky Solar System Kit

Prior to being a mom, I taught pre-school.  I attended a seminar where we were told that if we had a lesson plan and were all prepared and excited about the day's plans, and a child came in talking about a spider they saw or dinosaurs or going to the doctor or whatever and that child engaged the class, we should bag our plans for the day, switch gears and improvise a lesson on the topic the class was engaged in.  Teaching a child when they are interested will make them retain much more of the lesson.  I completely believe this and find it to be one of the most rewarding parts of teaching.

It seems that, with homeschooling, every time I take the time to plan out a fairly detailed lesson plan...something comes up and we end up going off in another direction.

Two weeks ago, we were on spring break and I took time to plan out the rest of the year so we could finish all of our current curriculum and projects by mid-June.

Then, we started reading a biography of Isaac Newton.  It began with Copernicus and geocentrism and Aristotle and mom had given the girls a Solar System kit and I had planned to do an astronomy unit study AFTER we learned about Newton.  But we kind of got sidetracked and Friday was a snowy day and we were caught up with our we started our Solar System kit.  It felt like the right time to get involved with learning about the planets.  It was the right time.  
We had just finished our study of the Greeks in History and were about to learn about the Romans when we took this detour Friday.  Well, wouldn't you know it, the word planet comes from the Greek word "wanderer" and many of the planets are named for the Roman gods and goddesses?  I just LOVE how it all ties in together.  

We spent the rainy/snowy day reading about Mars, Venus, and Mercury.

 I LOVE this kit.  It is seriously an awesome science kit.  There is a great, detailed booklet about the planets and moons, PLUS Scupley to make small planets and a scale template (so each girl will have her own small solar system for her room) PLUS large scale plastic models that need to be painted and will make a beautiful solar system model for our classroom.  The girls started making their own small planet books, with a colored pencil drawing of each planet and list of bullet points about that planet on the opposite page.

 The girls either paint the planets together or one paints the planet while the other makes the Sculpey planets.  There is an awesome painting guide that teaches technique and color mixing.  EVERY SINGLE NECESSARY SUPPLY IS INCLUDED!

We spent Saturday morning working on the project. Jason helped us with some of the cool experiments in the book, like measuring how far away the sun is and learning about why the sky is blue.

We decided to use Sharpies to color in land on the model of the Earth, because we thought it would be neater.

 On Saturday afternoon, I checked the schedule for the planetarium at the local community college.... This is why I LOVE homeschooling--we can hop in the car and check out a museum or planetarium or aquarium RIGHT THEN AND THERE if it has an exhibit on what we are learning.

Sure enough, the planetarium at our local community college was offering a program on the planets.  So, we hopped in the car!

We had a little fun in the gallery:

Astronaut ice cream
Neil Armstrong or the hubs :)

P and I pretending we are floating in space

There was a great Treasure Hunt with a ton of interesting facts, like how many miles is Mars from the sun.
The girls filled it out and got a small prize.
Austin Powers or the hubs?

Me--waiting for the show to begin!

The program was perfect.  It kept the girls' interests and reiterated what we learned about the Rocky Midgets and highlighted what we were about to learn on Sunday afternoon about the Gas Giants. 

 We stayed for the awesome laser show--the girls' first and it was the perfect relaxing time for girls who don't mind schooling on weekends!!  They got to sing along with the Beatles and Coldplay and Blink 182 and Lady Gaga and watch the cool laser displays.
P & I in the galaxy tunnel,
but with Instagram it looks very 70s disco, yes?