Space and Solar System Activities

We are studying space in science and linking it with the Reading Streets 2nd grade Literature selection all about the life of an astronaut. I love teaching kids about Space because they really love it! I’m so glad it is in our 2nd grade core!

I think Svetha’s is one of the prettiest art projects. She put a lot
of time (and a lot of sequins) into her art. 
Reading Streets 2nd Grade An Astronaut in Space writing project….

 The assignment I gave them after reading the selection, was to start writing a piece of realistic fiction on them traveling as an astronaut through our solar system.  If they used some of the AMAZING WORDS vocabulary, they got a sticker or a gummy bear!

Space Stories and Art made a cute bulletin board! 
After reading the Reading Streets story, we wrote our own astronauts in space stories….

I see “launched” and “asteroid” on this great story from Jack. He gets a sticker! Woo Hoo! 
Gotta love the rings around Saturn! 

I have lots of books and activities on phases of the moon….

Here is a sampling of some GREAT SPACE BOOKS:

 Me and My Place in Space  by Joan Sweeney

What the Moon is Like, Franklin M. Branley

The Moon Seems to Change, Franklin M. Branley

Find the Constellations by H. A. Rey

The Moon Book, Gail Gibbons

If You Decide to go to the Moon by Faith McNulty

Let’s Explore the Moon (Space Launch), Helen and David Orme

Postcards From the Planets

A great book to read before starting your writings….it is all realistic fiction in the post card writing form. Very creative, I must say! 
 We read the big book Postcards From the Planets as well as about 8 other books as read alouds on space and planet facts. We did a little mini book of space and planet facts. We also did phases of the moon wheels and read a minibook and several Scholastic News’ selections I’d saved over the years.

 We sang songs from the Reading Streets Songbook as well as a few I had in my space files. A good National Geographic online resource for facts and pictures to go with your readings is HERE. It’s got lots of good solar system info and great images.

Creative space stories….I loved them all! 
Very bright and colorful space art using oil pastels.  
The foam peel and stick shapes were from Oriental Trading the Link is here. They cost about $8.00 for a big package that lasts me 3 years for 3 classes. 

 I got a selection of non fiction books on each of the planets from scholastic one year. They are higher level and kids love looking at the great photographs of shots of space and planets.

 I’ve collected Weekly Readers and Scholastic News for many years on all kinds of science topics.

Cute planet art projects turned out nice…

I challenged the kids to use some of our Space vocabulary words in their stories….
Space art….this planet looks kinda like a PIZZA! 
Lots of fun space adventures! 
Space Stories….

I have about 5 on space topics from Phases of the Moon to the Solar System to Astronauts and the Mars Rover.

 We did a REALISTIC FICTION WRITING ASSIGNMENT after all our reading. We brainstormed different problems and solutions that could happen to an astronaut traveling through the solar system. I gave them “sloppy copy” paper and had them write using Space as the setting. The only objective was writing a realistic story about an adventure through space from Earth and back using some describing words and some vocabulary words from our Literature series.

We sang a song, made an astronaut and a space “door knocker” as a few fast finisher projects for my fast writers. 

 After editing their work, I had them rewrite the stories on the “SPACE STORY” paper and then called up small groups to do illustrations with Crayola oil chalks on black paper.

These are the “space shapes” from Oriental Trading’s peel and stick foam space shapes.

 We then added some space foam stickers and then glued on some round and moon and star shaped giant sequins. They were very pretty.

The girls are just starting their space art projects using the oil pastels….

Our own space stories used the genre of “REALISTIC FICTION” and we were the astronaut characters  traveling through space encountering a realistic problem with a realistic solution. No alien stories were allowed.

Finished Space art and space writing…..
space bulletin board stories with space art projects…
Space art with oil pastels and peel and stick foam space shapes….
Each story had to have a problem and a solution….

 The stories turned out really good. I had about 5 kids a day share their finished stories up at the author’s chair. Then we stapled all the stories and art out on the bulletin board in the hallway.

Space Stories
I love how Cambria labeled all of her planets and the Sun. 😀  As you can see she has landed on the moon. 
Websites for more great space information and videos:
Solar Systems made with Crayola air dry clay. 

We read Weekly Readers on the Solar System, wrote about a planet, then made it out of clay and placed it on our solar system (dark blue 2 inch strip of foam core from Walmart). I cut them all out on the paper cutter. You can get a class set from 2 pieces of foam core (about $3.50 each). 

The Crayola air dry clay is called Model Magic. It comes in packs of 4 colors or white. I usually buy a bag of each and give kids part white and part another color in a 1/4 inch ball. They add color with Crayola markers just little dots of color. 

If you want green swirls, use a few dots of green Crayola marker on the Model Magic clay. Then roll around for a minute in your palms and magic! It looks like a planet! 

This is the Crayola Model Magic clay we use. And here are our finished solar systems. 

The kids are always very proud of themselves each year I do the solar systems. It is one of the most fun science projects of the year in first grade! 

At Squish Ideas for Preschool’s blog there are many ideas and this cute downloadable if you want to make a cut and color solar system too. She also has a recipe for moonsand. (which I purchased and it is pretty pricey!) 
I can’t wait to show the kids my video of the space shuttle taking off one of the last times. My hubs recorded it onto a VHS. It is sad that we are not supporting the space program so much anymore.
But it’s cool that we still get to study space! The Crayola model magic solar systems are fun to do!

Solar systems made from Crayola Model Magic air dry clay on blue presentation boards. They are awesome addition to our study of Space.  

5 thoughts on “Space and Solar System Activities”

  1. Hi…My name is Anna and I teach 2nd grade in NY…I found your blog this morning and was ELATED when I read you use Reading Street. I was hoping I could ask you a question. Do you HAVE to stay on the 5 day schedule that the Reading Street book follows? I read your post about Space so it seems that you added in a lot of other activities for that week. I would LOVE to hear how you organize your week with reading street. I have been teaching for 20 years and this is the first time I have ever had to follow a program like this and it's killing me!!!!!!!!! I am all about balanced literacy but keeping within this 5 day schedule is BORING and I want to try and get the kids excited about the stories..but I'm having trouble getting "fun" stuff in and give the weekly test on the 6th day.

    Would love to hear your thoughts….Thanks so much for such an ispiring blog!!!!

  2. Hi Anna, Yes I try to infuse lots more background knowledge into my Reading Streets weekly themes. It's the best way to teach I think. What I do is try to think of a way to synthesize the info into a writing assignment each week PLUS a poem, art project, and many read alouds for background. I buy a lot of books on Amazon for upcoming stories. During this space week I also showed a video, we made solar system models out of Crayola air dry clay, etc. Think of it as thematic teaching. What could you add to each week's story? You'll come up with ideas, you will see! I'll keep posting what I do with Reading Streets!

  3. Also one more thing. I have a gifted group so I can squish things in faster (compact curriculum) so I have more time for enrichment because they all "get it" and finish work fast. So it is easier for me to fit enrichment stuff in. Also I don't read it word for word as it is scripted. I paraphrase stuff and find more challenging worksheets online etc, write instead of some worksheets and just have them add synonyms or compound words to writing (or whatever we are studying). I do a lot of the small group stuff as a whole class cuz I can (they are all high)and I skip 5th day in the schedule too. I'll usually do science or SS that day with different reading/writing activities. My spelling lists are harder too.

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