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Dramatic play during a space unit
A journey into space!
29 Apr, 2017. 7 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Kindergarten, Kindergarten Science, Reggio Inspired. Posted By: Kristen Smith

At the very beginning of the school year, I showed my students a video taken from the International Space Station. Oftentimes, teachers will ask how I choose the inquiries that we embark upon. Most frequently, our inquiries come from my students’ interests and questions. While this short video was playing, my students were SILENT. If you teach kindergarten, you know that during the first few months of school that this is something in and of itself. As they watched the video, I could see the spark of interest in my students’ eyes. They were fascinated. I remember talking to a friend of mine about this potential inquiry and we discussed holding off on it until a bit later so that we could really dig deep into the subject matter. I’m so glad I waited. Not only are we learning a ton, but my students’ interest in this topic has grown tremendously. By holding off just a bit and devoting ample amount of exploration time, we are digging deep and the kids are LOVING it.

The day we turned our classroom into the International Space Station happened to be during our week of standardized testing. I knew that we were going to need a bit of a pick me up after testing for 3 days straight. On our last day of testing, we transformed our classroom.

A kindergarten classroom is transformed into the International Space Station during a unit on space! A kindergarten classroom is transformed into the International Space Station during a unit on space! A kindergarten classroom is transformed into the International Space Station during a unit on space!

My students got right to work playing. Some took on jobs working the computers for NASA.

A kindergarten classroom is transformed into the International Space Station during a unit on space!
A kindergarten classroom is transformed into the International Space Station during a unit on space!

Other students took on the job of becoming astronauts.  They eagerly built their rocket ships and blasted off into space. Mission control was happy to guide them on their journey to the Moon.

Kindergarten students build a rocket ship and pretend to blast into outer space!

Once they landed on the Moon, they created “missions” that they needed to accomplish.

Kindergarten students engage in dramatic play during a space unit.

 This dramatic play center is STILL one of the favorites in my classroom. Every day students visit it and play together so nicely.

These kindergarten students are pretending to work for NASA during a space unit. A kindergarten classroom is transformed into the International Space Station during a unit on space!

My students came up with a list of “wonders” and we are now going on three weeks of digging deeper into the concepts. One of the things that really intrigued them was what a star was made up of. They also wondered why we only see stars at night. To help my students understand the concept of day and night, we watched a few videos that explained the Earth’s rotation and then this fun illustrated video.

After we watched it, my students drew pictures of their favorite things that they can do during the day and then another picture of things that happen at night.

Young learners drew their favorite things to do or see during the day and night.

Another day they created a sequence of events craft that illustrates where the sun and moon are over the course of the day.

Kindergarten students complete a sequence of events craft during a space unit.

As an exploration center, I took out my constellation projector (that I inherited from a parent). We covered up one of our tables with a black sheet and the kids had a blast “star gazing.”

These young learners are observing constellations under a table covered with a black sheet. They pretended that they were stargazing! Star gazing center: place a constellation lamp under a table and cover it with a dark sheet. Star gazing center in a kindergarten classroom

This center was the catalyst of a multitude of questions about stars, constellations, and the night sky. In fact, my students went to the library that afternoon and 8 of them came back with books on stars!

These videos helped us build schema, answer some of our questions, and inspire us to learn more!

My students were amazed to find out that stars could be different colors! To show what they were learning, we took out our liquid watercolors and oil pastel crayons, My young artists created paintings of space.

First they drew stars and details using the oil pastel crayons.

My students were amazed to find out that stars could be different colors! To show what they were learning, we took out our liquid watercolors and oil pastel crayons, My young artists created paintings of space.

My students were amazed to find out that stars could be different colors! To show what they were learning, we took out our liquid watercolors and oil pastel crayons, My young artists created paintings of space.

Then they painted over their drawings using the liquid watercolors.

During a space unit,  students were amazed to find out that stars could be different colors! To show what they were learning, we took out our liquid watercolors and oil pastel crayons, My young artists created paintings of space. During a space unit,  students were amazed to find out that stars could be different colors! To show what they were learning, we took out our liquid watercolors and oil pastel crayons, My young artists created paintings of space. During a space unit,  students were amazed to find out that stars could be different colors! To show what they were learning, we took out our liquid watercolors and oil pastel crayons, My young artists created paintings of space. During a space unit,  students were amazed to find out that stars could be different colors! To show what they were learning, we took out our liquid watercolors and oil pastel crayons, My young artists created paintings of space.

I think they came out marvelous!

During a space unit,  students were amazed to find out that stars could be different colors! To show what they were learning, we took out our liquid watercolors and oil pastel crayons, My young artists created paintings of space.

Another exploration center that has been a FAVORITE has been making constellations using a hammer, nails, and Dixie cups! The kids can not get enough of this. One child counted yesterday afternoon that she had made a total of 34 constellation cups throughout the course of the week. She proudly showed her mom Cassiopeia,  The Big Dipper, and Orion along with other creative constellation patterns.

Constellation Provocation: Can you punch out a constellation in a Dixie Cup and then shine it onto a dark wall? Constellation Provocation: Can you punch out a constellation in a Dixie Cup and then shine it onto a dark wall? Constellation Provocation: Can you punch out a constellation in a Dixie Cup and then shine it onto a dark wall? Constellation Provocation: Can you punch out a constellation in a Dixie Cup and then shine it onto a dark wall?

After the kids punched out their constellations, they went into our bathroom, shut the door, and used a flashlight to project their constellation(s) onto the dark walls.

One of the videos that we watched mentioned Rigel (one of the stars in the constellation Orion). My students were so inspired that I had parents emailing me to share the video with them and asking about it! My students asked if they could paint the stars so I set up this provocation. My students used the balloons to paint their favorite stars. They labeled and wrote about them after they painted them!

Star Provocation: Can you paint a star?

In this picture, one child is paining Rigel!

Star Provocation: Can you paint a star? Star Provocation: Can you paint a star?

One of the questions that my students kept asking was what a star was. In order to help my students better understand what a star is, we completed a science “experiment.” We talked about how a star is made up of gases that are constantly moving. We took out a few mason jars and filled them with 3/4 vegetable oil and 1/4 water. We added about 10 drops of food coloring and then added Alka Seltzer to the jars.

One of the questions that my students kept asking was what a star was. In order to help my students better understand what a star is, we completed a science "experiment." We talked about how a star is made up of gases that are constantly moving. We took out a few mason jars and filled them with 3/4 vegetable oil and 1/4 water. We added about 10 drops of food coloring and then added Alka Seltzer to the jars. One of the questions that my students kept asking was what a star was. In order to help my students better understand what a star is, we completed a science "experiment." We talked about how a star is made up of gases that are constantly moving. We took out a few mason jars and filled them with 3/4 vegetable oil and 1/4 water. We added about 10 drops of food coloring and then added Alka Seltzer to the jars.

As soon as the Alka Seltzer hit the jar, colorful spheres of color floated up and down in the jars. I related the movement of the spheres to the gases constantly moving in a star. (Look at how amazed my students were!!)

One of the questions that my students kept asking was what a star was. In order to help my students better understand what a star is, we completed a science "experiment." We talked about how a star is made up of gases that are constantly moving. We took out a few mason jars and filled them with 3/4 vegetable oil and 1/4 water. We added about 10 drops of food coloring and then added Alka Seltzer to the jars. One of the questions that my students kept asking was what a star was. In order to help my students better understand what a star is, we completed a science "experiment." We talked about how a star is made up of gases that are constantly moving. We took out a few mason jars and filled them with 3/4 vegetable oil and 1/4 water. We added about 10 drops of food coloring and then added Alka Seltzer to the jars.

The kids noticed that “smoke” came out the top of the jar. We talked about  just how our jar produced “smoke,” stars emit light and heat.

One of the questions that my students kept asking was what a star was. In order to help my students better understand what a star is, we completed a science "experiment." We talked about how a star is made up of gases that are constantly moving. We took out a few mason jars and filled them with 3/4 vegetable oil and 1/4 water. We added about 10 drops of food coloring and then added Alka Seltzer to the jars. One of the questions that my students kept asking was what a star was. In order to help my students better understand what a star is, we completed a science "experiment." We talked about how a star is made up of gases that are constantly moving. We took out a few mason jars and filled them with 3/4 vegetable oil and 1/4 water. We added about 10 drops of food coloring and then added Alka Seltzer to the jars.

This science experiment really helped my students visualize the movement of the gases in stars and why stars emit light and heat.

We are loving this unit! Stay tuned for a blog post on some of the Moon activities we completed!!

If you are interested in these activities and many more, check out my “All About Space” pack on Teachers Pay Teachers! It is full of lesson plans, activities, posters, word cards, and more! You can get it here:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-Space-a-Preschool-and-Kindergarten-pack-1900116

Affiliate links are included in this blog post at no additional cost to you!

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7 Comments
  1. I love everything you shared here! It’s open ended, quiry driven, & motivates learners. With the eclipse happening first week of school this could be a good start to our year! I teach like this too & would love for you to check put y fairly new blog astrawnteacherlife.

  2. Thank you for sharing and creating this lesson unit. I am a big fan of all you do.

  3. I just finished a solar system/moon phase unit and wish I had seen this sooner!i teach in an inner city area and love connecting my students to real learning as much as possible. The students absolutely loved learning about our solar system/moon and several got bonus points for sending in pix of them photo bomb-ing a moon phase (and identifying it) They LOVED STORYBOTS on YouTube (which also has great song on dinosaurs and body parts and more undiscovered zones :). They were able to rap, sing, write about, and recite lots of facts about the sun, earth, moon, and dwarf planets. Another great merge was a fun chapter book read-aloud that week of Magic Treehouse Midnight on the Moon
    You provided such an amazing launch pad for this lesson. I look forward to using these ideas next year with my class. Thank you!

    • It sounds like your unit was so much fun! I love the idea of photobombing the moon and identifying the moon phase!! :)

  4. Molly Levis -

    Hi Kristen! I love your post! Your units are always so carefully thought out. I am in the process of looking for an addition to my dramatic play area. I love the way your dramatic play area is set up. Did you purchase the wooden furniture pieces as a set? Thank you!

7 Comments

  • I love everything you shared here! It’s open ended, quiry driven, & motivates learners. With the eclipse happening first week of school this could be a good start to our year! I teach like this too & would love for you to check put y fairly new blog astrawnteacherlife.

  • Thank you for sharing and creating this lesson unit. I am a big fan of all you do.

  • I just finished a solar system/moon phase unit and wish I had seen this sooner!i teach in an inner city area and love connecting my students to real learning as much as possible. The students absolutely loved learning about our solar system/moon and several got bonus points for sending in pix of them photo bomb-ing a moon phase (and identifying it) They LOVED STORYBOTS on YouTube (which also has great song on dinosaurs and body parts and more undiscovered zones :). They were able to rap, sing, write about, and recite lots of facts about the sun, earth, moon, and dwarf planets. Another great merge was a fun chapter book read-aloud that week of Magic Treehouse Midnight on the Moon
    You provided such an amazing launch pad for this lesson. I look forward to using these ideas next year with my class. Thank you!

    • It sounds like your unit was so much fun! I love the idea of photobombing the moon and identifying the moon phase!! :)

  • Molly Levis -

    Hi Kristen! I love your post! Your units are always so carefully thought out. I am in the process of looking for an addition to my dramatic play area. I love the way your dramatic play area is set up. Did you purchase the wooden furniture pieces as a set? Thank you!

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