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The moon and the stars
Most children are fascinated with this topic because it simultaneously teaches them about the real world around them and allows them to explore their imagination. It can be as long or as short as you wish, depending on the age you teach and the time you have available.
- To introduce vocabulary: moon, sun, earth, sky, planets, stars, astronaut, space rocket (lower primary) and solar system, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars (upper primary)
- To integrate cultural referencing with the Chinese Moon Festival
- To integrate cross-curricula learning with science – looking at the solar system
- To use poetry, songs and nursery rhymes to motivate young learners
- To learn comparatives and superlatives (upper primary) for size (big, bigger, the biggest, etc.)
For very young children (4–6) you can base the whole lesson around the traditional nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle. For upper primary (7–11) you can turn the topic into a project that spans several lessons.
- coloured card for shape poems
- coloured card for solar mobiles
- sets of body shapes for Alien Beetle Drive
- eight coat hangers for three mobiles and one model for them to copy
- Hey Diddle Diddle flashcards
- laminated pictures of moon cake and the moon
Moon or star shape poem
- Cut out a crescent moon shape and a star shape out of card before the lesson and write the poem below or make up your own. This card should act as a model of how they can physically write their own poem onto their own shapes. They can choose their own shape and if you can, get them to base the whole poem about just the moon, a star or the topic in general.
- Here is a poem that my four-year-old dictated to me. You can do the same with your younger learners whereby you give the beginning of each sentence, e.g. The moon is …, and they can make suggestions for the gaps. On the board you can write The ☼ is … so for the pre-reading age they can follow the poem using the pictures to help them.
The moon is white,
The stars are bright,
The planets are beautiful,
The sky is blue.
The sun is a circle with little straight lines,
The earth is in the sky,
Alien from Mars
- You can teach or review body parts and integrate numbers and prepositions of place when the children create their aliens.
- You could draw the separate body parts yourself, onto an A4 sheet, photocopy one for each child and they can cut and paste onto a plain sheet of paper in whatever formation they want.
- This could be a 'Beetle Drive' game where they have the sets of body parts and have to collect a body part by rolling a dice. They can do this in threes. The first to complete their alien wins.
- For the older primary they can invent their own alien from Mars independently and then display their work.
- They could describe their alien to their neighbour who has to draw what they hear. They could make up funny names for their aliens and even create their own planet.
A solar system mobile
- As well as learning about the names, the colour and size of the planets, they can be simultaneously using comparatives. They need to know … is bigger than … and The smallest planet is …
- Using a couple of coat hangers tied together you can start to create your solar system mobile.
- You could split the class into three groups with several sub-groups in each. Each group will produce a mobile so you will have three in the end.
- Each sub-group (one or two people) is in charge of drawing a planet for their group's mobile.
- They need to negotiate as a group first what size they are going to draw each planet so that the sizes are relatively accurate. Ask volunteers to draw on the board the different planets and with help from the class they must decide if the planet they are drawing should be bigger or smaller than the others.
- Once they have created a model on the board they can measure the diameter of each circle and this could be what they have to reproduce onto card.
A traditional nursery rhyme
Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
A traditional song
This song has been translated into several languages so the tune may be familiar to your pupils. With upper primary you could remove the last words of each line for them to replace as they listen. With lower primary they could draw the star in the song. You could hang up their stars in the classroom.
If you have internet access you can also find a video of the song with activities here:
Twinkle twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.
Chinese Moon Festival
An interesting aspect of the October Chinese Moon Festival that you can tell your children about is moon cake. It is traditionally given to friends and family as a gift. It originates back to the end of the Yuan Dynasty when they were defeated thanks to secret messages about an attack that were hidden inside moon cakes. It's a sweet cake with a boiled egg in the middle and it has quite an acquired taste.
- They could try and think of different kinds of food which could look like a moon.
- They could make secret messages to put inside a pretend cake.
Chinese Moon Festival: http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/midfallstory.htm
Goodnight Moon lesson plan plus a list of moon books: http://www.hubbardscupboard.org/goodnight-moon
Virtual trip to the moon lesson plan: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/blast-vocabulary-instruction-using-946.html