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February 9, 2018

One Moon, Two Activities, Three Books

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    This year I was given a combination class. My 20 kids consist of 12 kindergarteners and 8 first graders. There is a lot that can be challenging when teaching a combination class, but one of the great things about it has been getting to work with amazing teachers on two different grade levels. Getting to work with the first grade teachers this year has been very helpful as I’ve tried to balance the needs of the students in both grades. Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Ford have been so gracious in including my class in their plans.

    One of the great things that they shared with me this year are their lessons about the moon. They brought two great hands-on ideas that I paired with three books from my classroom library. All of these books are currently available from Scholastic Book Club.

    To start, I read If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas. Jaime Kim’s illustrations are absolutely breathtaking and immediately grabbed the everyone's attention. The contrast between darkness and light was done with true master-level skill.

    There is actually double text on each page. There is one sentence on each page that I read during the read-aloud that gently describes the jobs that the moon does. The read-aloud portion includes beautifully written lines such as “Spin like a twilight ballerina.” and “Challenge the ocean to a tug-of-war.” The other text includes a smaller font that describes the science behind each of the lyrical lines. This format is wonderful in that it allows you to engulf yourself in the beautiful imagery, but also gives you answers to the “why?” and “how?” questions that are sure to follow.

    This book has a Guided Reading Level (GRL) of N.

     

    For the purpose of these two activities, after I finished reading the book, I turned back to the page that states, “Play dodgeball with space rocks.”

    This page leads me to the next book, Sun, Earth, and Moon. Written by Adrianna Edwards and Ron Edwards this book came in a five-pack that I ordered from Scholastic Book Clubs. The pack is a Smart Words Beginning Reader package that focuses on space. I first show the class page 25. The picture of the moon and its craters is exactly the picture that I needed the kids to see before we began the activity.

    This book has a GRL of L.

    Then, to expand on the idea space rocks, I showed the class the picture on page 12 and 13. I point to the rows of space rocks in the chart of the solar system and then pick up the book Space Rocks. This book is another one by Adrianna Edwards and Ron Edwards and came in the same Smart Words Beginning Reader pack that contained the Sun, Earth, and Moon book I mentioned previously.

    I used this book to show the different sizes and shapes of space rocks. I first turned to pages 10 and 11 to show some pictures of actual asteroids and after the “oohs” and “ahhs” I quickly turn to page 25. This page is perfect to show how a meteor is just a piece of asteroid that broke off. The other picture on page 25 is a picture of the moon and one of the craters which carries the lesson right back to the point of the activities.

    This book also has an GRL of L.

    When I point out this last picture of the moon, I tell the class that the box on the floor is our version of the surface of the moon.

     

    To create this surface, I used the following directions from Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Ford:

    1. Grab a plastic box that is wider than tall
    2. Fill it just under half full with flour
    3. Tap the box on the floor to level out the flour base
    4. Add a small layer of chocolate powder to help show the contrast of the crater

    1. Introduce several different balls as space rocks. We used a baseball, a softball, a tennis ball, a golf ball, and an emoji stress ball.
    2. Have students take turns dropping different balls and compare the craters that each ball makes.
    3. Have students take turn dropping the different balls from different heights. This is where the experimentation begins. Can a small space rock have as deep of an impact that a larger space rock can have if it gets more speed before it hits the moon?

     

    After this activity, we made a quick snack that only needed three simple ingredients and continued the learning:

    • Rice cakes
    • Frosting
    • Cheerios


    1. Each student takes a rice cake and spreads icing across the top. The rice cake is intentionally bumpy to mimic the surface of the moon. The icing allows a surface on which students can create craters.
    2. The students then take a few Cheerios, used as space rocks, and place them in the icing.
    3. Students pull the Cheerios off and they can see the indentions that represent the craters on the moon.

    If you try this out, let me know how it goes. I’d love ideas on how to make this even a stronger lesson.

    Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

     

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

     

     

     

     

    This year I was given a combination class. My 20 kids consist of 12 kindergarteners and 8 first graders. There is a lot that can be challenging when teaching a combination class, but one of the great things about it has been getting to work with amazing teachers on two different grade levels. Getting to work with the first grade teachers this year has been very helpful as I’ve tried to balance the needs of the students in both grades. Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Ford have been so gracious in including my class in their plans.

    One of the great things that they shared with me this year are their lessons about the moon. They brought two great hands-on ideas that I paired with three books from my classroom library. All of these books are currently available from Scholastic Book Club.

    To start, I read If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas. Jaime Kim’s illustrations are absolutely breathtaking and immediately grabbed the everyone's attention. The contrast between darkness and light was done with true master-level skill.

    There is actually double text on each page. There is one sentence on each page that I read during the read-aloud that gently describes the jobs that the moon does. The read-aloud portion includes beautifully written lines such as “Spin like a twilight ballerina.” and “Challenge the ocean to a tug-of-war.” The other text includes a smaller font that describes the science behind each of the lyrical lines. This format is wonderful in that it allows you to engulf yourself in the beautiful imagery, but also gives you answers to the “why?” and “how?” questions that are sure to follow.

    This book has a Guided Reading Level (GRL) of N.

     

    For the purpose of these two activities, after I finished reading the book, I turned back to the page that states, “Play dodgeball with space rocks.”

    This page leads me to the next book, Sun, Earth, and Moon. Written by Adrianna Edwards and Ron Edwards this book came in a five-pack that I ordered from Scholastic Book Clubs. The pack is a Smart Words Beginning Reader package that focuses on space. I first show the class page 25. The picture of the moon and its craters is exactly the picture that I needed the kids to see before we began the activity.

    This book has a GRL of L.

    Then, to expand on the idea space rocks, I showed the class the picture on page 12 and 13. I point to the rows of space rocks in the chart of the solar system and then pick up the book Space Rocks. This book is another one by Adrianna Edwards and Ron Edwards and came in the same Smart Words Beginning Reader pack that contained the Sun, Earth, and Moon book I mentioned previously.

    I used this book to show the different sizes and shapes of space rocks. I first turned to pages 10 and 11 to show some pictures of actual asteroids and after the “oohs” and “ahhs” I quickly turn to page 25. This page is perfect to show how a meteor is just a piece of asteroid that broke off. The other picture on page 25 is a picture of the moon and one of the craters which carries the lesson right back to the point of the activities.

    This book also has an GRL of L.

    When I point out this last picture of the moon, I tell the class that the box on the floor is our version of the surface of the moon.

     

    To create this surface, I used the following directions from Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Ford:

    1. Grab a plastic box that is wider than tall
    2. Fill it just under half full with flour
    3. Tap the box on the floor to level out the flour base
    4. Add a small layer of chocolate powder to help show the contrast of the crater

    1. Introduce several different balls as space rocks. We used a baseball, a softball, a tennis ball, a golf ball, and an emoji stress ball.
    2. Have students take turns dropping different balls and compare the craters that each ball makes.
    3. Have students take turn dropping the different balls from different heights. This is where the experimentation begins. Can a small space rock have as deep of an impact that a larger space rock can have if it gets more speed before it hits the moon?

     

    After this activity, we made a quick snack that only needed three simple ingredients and continued the learning:

    • Rice cakes
    • Frosting
    • Cheerios


    1. Each student takes a rice cake and spreads icing across the top. The rice cake is intentionally bumpy to mimic the surface of the moon. The icing allows a surface on which students can create craters.
    2. The students then take a few Cheerios, used as space rocks, and place them in the icing.
    3. Students pull the Cheerios off and they can see the indentions that represent the craters on the moon.

    If you try this out, let me know how it goes. I’d love ideas on how to make this even a stronger lesson.

    Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

     

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

     

     

     

     

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