Now that you’ve heard all about the drama surrounding this program, let’s roll on to the actual details and activities.
Firstly, I took a lot of notes from this post by Marge Loch-Wouters and this one from Amy Koester. Both are wonderful and slightly different from my version, so go check those out as well if you’re planning a space program for school-agers.
To begin with, I brought everyone to my storytime rug and read a few pages from You Can’t Ride a Bicycle to the Moon by Harriet Ziefert. The illustrations and explanations in this short, nonfiction title make it one of my favorite titles for space exploration. It’s spot on for grades 3-5, but you can easily present it storytime-style, too.
When I found out I would be having 50 kids in each session for this program, I quickly scanned the pages I would be reading and made them into a powerpoint to show as I read and quizzed the kids about the moon. That allowed everyone to see the pages, and since I’m not sharing the powerpoint and I only used selected pages, there was no harm done to copyright. I was also sure to mention which book I was reading from and suggested that everyone look at it.
When I came to my final slide showing the different parts of an astronaut’s suit, I had kids pretend to suit up and then…3,2,1,BLAST OFF. We were in space…until we weren’t. We crashed together on the moon and I handed out those handy “space bandaids” (stickers) to kids who raised their hands for one.
Then it was time for our stations. Since I had more kids than I’d planned and not enough chairs for all of them to sit at a table at the same time, I divided the group into three smaller groups and began rotating them through the activity areas.
I stayed near the projector and showed the kids constellations while reading about their individual stories. I found this activity on Pinterest, but please visit this blog for the full description. After that, I played a couple rounds of Simon Says with the kids until it was time to switch. This was station one.
Station two was two tables set-up with lots of craft supplies. Signs on the tables informed kids that since we’d crashed, we needed to rebuild our rockets with spare parts. Kids decorated a cup to look like their own version of a rocket.
Station three had freeze-dried ice cream for the kids to taste and then they would move to our deck to play moon hopscotch. The game involved 5 activities related to what you might do on the moon. One instructed kids to pretend to drive their rover along a dotted line, then another asked them to refuel on oxygen by blowing bubbles. Of course, there was hopscotch, too, where they hopped across circular craters. This was all done with sidewalk chalk.
When everyone went through all the stations, the program was over. It ran 45 minutes to an hour and I really felt like every kid who came through, no matter how wily, learned something.
What I learned, though, was pretty important.
I really don’t think a program with more than two activities works well with large groups. How do you all feel about this? I needed to rotate smaller groups to make it all work in my space, but maybe you have some super genius way of managing large groups.
Don’t try to glue anything to a plastic cup. 😉