When I was little I LOVED learning about space! I remember visiting Kennedy Space Center when I was younger and just being enthralled! Even today when I learn more about space and teach it each year I am just amazed at all we are learning as a world! Just like me, our students love learning about space! There’s just something about it that piques kids’ interests. Even those students who are generally apathetic towards learning. There are so many resources out there, but I am going to share some of my absolute FAVORITE space activities for 5th grade!
Teaching Space and Why it Matters
Teaching about our solar system is not only engaging but important! We understand a lot about our world and how it functions, but there is still so much about our galaxy and universe that is yet to be discovered. Our students will be a part of the future that continues to discover more about what lies beyond our planet. Because of this, our students need to understand what we know already about our galaxy and the planets around us. It is also important for students to understand the anomalies such as seasons, moon phases, eclipses, and more as a part of the way our solar system functions.
Books and Activities About Space
Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years – By Stacy McAnulty
This book is seriously SO FUN! This book starts by going over the Earth and its place in our solar system from the Earth’s perspective. I love the page where it shows Earth talking about her family and the other planets. Also, the page with baby planet Earth is adorable and hilarious! It then goes on to make quick mention of the Earth’s movements around the sun as well as the moon around it. The Earth tells us about her history and some of the important events that have occurred on her in her first 5.45 billion years.
I love this author and the illustrations are captivating without being too little kiddish for 5th graders. I feel like this book is geared towards older elementary grades with humor but the information is perfect for introducing our students to our planet. It gets them thinking about where our planet came from and its history.
Sun! One in a Billion – By Stacy McAnulty
So obviously I really like this author! This book starts out by telling us how old the Sun is along with its definition. The Sun tells us about how it brings light to Earth and compares itself to other suns. I love the page where it shows all the planets revolving around it, “life revolved around me — literally.” The Sun gives us its relative size which is mind blowing and then talks about what it’s made of. Learning about the movement was fascinating and I love the mention of the different anomalies mentioned such as eclipses and the Northern Lights.
This book is just as good as her Earth book and is an awesome resource for teaching our students more about the Sun. I love the mix of fact and fictional story elements that Stacy McAnulty uses to create these beautiful books. There is a TON of great information about the Sun in this book that is going to blow the minds of your students and even you! This is a definite must have for your space activities for 5th grade.
Moon! Earth’s Best Friend – By Stacy McAnulty
Here’s another gem from Stacy McAnulty about the moon. It starts out by telling the story of how the Moon came about. Honesty time, I didn’t even know this until I read this book! I love the mention of how its revolution and rotation period are almost the same. My favorite illustration is the phases of the moon with all of the different phase names. It briefly mentions other moons and then compares and contrasts itself to the Earth.
One of the best pages is when it talks about the distance from the Earth and how no cow has ever jumped over it! The moon talks about its importance in keeping the Earth stable and how it never actually disappears during the day. Tides are briefly mentioned as well as what is and is not on the Moon. Eclipses are also mentioned, both solar and lunar.
These books are definitely must haves in the classroom but if you can’t buy the books you can always find some videos reading them online. Stacy McAnulty even has videos of her reading them herself!
If you are searching for more picture books about space, check out this blog post here!
Planets and Space Project Cube
Now that you’ve read all this amazing information to your students, you need an activity to help them remember it! My Planets and Space Project Cube is the perfect activity for your space unit! On the cube students will color and label pictures about the 8 planets, the moon phases, galaxies, and the sun. You can have them write down key information about each of these from the books you read or other information you teach. Having students write down what they’ve learned is one of the best ways to help them remember. You and your students will love this activity!
Another great way to help students learn about space is by helping them explore it for themselves. It’s impossible to get our students out there literally but NASA has a FREE simulation of our solar system in real time! In the simulation students can zoom in and look at each planet as well as the sun. When you zoom in, it gives you some basic information about it but you can find tons of other information on the same site. Seriously, this website is a game changer when it comes to teaching about the solar system. Also, it’s totally kid approved!
To Infinity and Beyond!
These are just a few of the many possibilities of space activities for 5th grade. I hope this post gave you a few ideas of what you can add to your space unit. The possibilities and learning about the world beyond this Earth truly are endless.
I’m including the link to my Plant and Space Project Cube which is sure to be a hit! Just click the link below to add this fabulous resource to your teaching arsenal. I am also including the links for the three books mentioned above. Prepare to have a TON of fun when you teach about Space!