How to teach space in elementary / primary school?
To teach space in primary school you need to consult the national curriculum. Space can be made into a topic subject and other subjects can be taught around it. A range of resources are available online to cover the basic content. To bring the wow factor it is advisable to engage with a mobile planetarium presenter. Being inside a mobile planetarium brings the topic of space to life.
The importance of space in elementary / primary school
Many new teachers often get puzzled about how to teach space in primary school. Space topic is included in the KS 1 and KS 2 national Curriculums. It makes its first appearance in Year 2 and then again in Y5. Given the opportunities and international interest in space exploration, it has the potential to contribute to any nations’ political, social and economic success. Not surprisingly then that there is a fair amount of expectation from the schools to ignite interest in the future generation. However, building space into the school academic planning may be a daunting task if you are not an astronomy enthusiast space.
Fear not! There are plenty of resources and ideas available to include the space in a primary school with a big bang. Furthermore, space makes a great topic as it links so many other school subjects together.
Ideas for teaching space in primary school
The best way to include space is to have it as a half term topic. Over the years, we have observed that by co-coordinating Y2 and Y5 activities for one half-term will create an opportunity for resource sharing when teaching space. It will also present an opportunity to showcase year groups work for the whole school.
Throughout the space-themed half-term, the pupils can engage in creative writings, space maths, out-of-this-world art-making and cooking, space exploration drama. At the end of the half-term the classes can have the grand finale day – a whole school ‘Space Day’ (why not tag on some fundraising activities). During this day the year groups can run stalls with space-themed produce and games. Alternatively, it provides an ideal opportunity to invite parent, careers and grand parents to space-themed drama and art display. The possibilities are plentiful. Visit Pinterest for space ideas: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/shellsowerby/space-ideas/
How to add the WOW factor?
The best practice is to ‘kick off the topic’ with a visit to a planetarium. Here specialist astronomy educators will cover some of the more in-depth subject content. The visit will also help the class teachers to brush on their space knowledge. However, a visit to a stationary planetarium may not be the best option if one is not located in closed proximity to the school. The trip may be costly and create unnecessary administrative work. A perfect substitute is a mobile planetarium.
An alternative to a costly trip is a visit from a mobile planetarium workshop. Mobile planetarium companies deliver awe of space and planetarium facilities directly to your school. No travel, no time- consuming trip organisation and risk assessments writing is necessary. Simply book a visit and split the cost between participating year groups. Where is that you can choose the topics and aside from the national curriculum requirements? The teachers can also ask to include other space-related themes. They can cover constellations and myths or space explorations with the idea to embed the topic into English, maths, drama. The mobile planetariums also offer a range of cross-curricular workshops. Moreover, the planetariums are suitable also a great way of bringing space into SEN schools.
Where can I find resources for space in primary school:
There are many websites where teachers can discover superb resources to teach space in primary school.
Subscription sites such as Twinkle offer some educational worksheets sustainable for different year groups.
However, in the world of the Internet, there are so many more free resources available:
1. Youtube video resource includes a short video, cartoons, and songs on any area of space topic you want.
2. NASA’s website (please note the focus is on the US). Another contribution from the US developers is the Space Station Explorers website. Here users will find lesson plans and resources for teaching about the international space station and beyond.
3. STEM Learning – UK organisation that offers space and other science rated learning support.
4. From teachers for teachers Times Education Supplements offer plenty of free and pay for resources on and around the topic of space
Recently launched James Webb Telescope (JWT). It is the next generation of telescope since the famous Hubble. JWT has its own UK based website. Here teachers can find some useful primary (and secondary resources).
European Space Agency has a superb website with opportunities for kids engagement and learning.
Wonderdome mobile planetarium provided has a range of lesson place and links to another site.
Essential kids also list five apps for learning about space. Read the blog here.
In summary, there are many ideas and resources available on-line to ignite pupils imaginations when introducing space in primary school. In the planning, teachers can link space to English, match, art, DT, outdoor learning, and fun activities. Schools can bring the wow factors with the aid of curriculum enhancement workshops.