Monday, April 1, 2013

Solar System Unit Schedule and Lesson Plan

This unit was longer than many of ours have been---4 weeks. This corresponded with the 4 weeks of comp time Sam had off of work (which sounds great, and was, but let us not forget the 1 million horrible hours of overtime he had to work to get it). Anyway, it was so GREAT to have him around all the time, for many reasons, including that he could help teach this unit---and this is stuff he really loves.

I feel like the Solar System unit is this ubiquitous thing---everyone has to do a solar system unit, right? And I mostly picked it because there were a few specific areas I wanted to cover for second and fourth grades, but I (honestly) thought it wasn't going to be one of the more interesting units for ME. I thought I would remember it all from when I was in school (except Pluto being a dwarf planet, which I knew was a change). But . . . of course . . . I learned TONS of new things. I don't know if they're things I wasn't taught or if I just forgot them all, or maybe they're just new advances in astronomy, but I was fascinated. And the kids, of course, were too. (I always knew they'd like it.)

We already had our 180 days of school in when this unit began, but I decided we might as well keep going until it was time for the baby to come, since we were still having so much fun, and our "summer break" would begin after the baby was born. We took our time going through the material, since there's so much to cover: a day for each planet, plus several other related subjects like the sun and the moon and comets and meteors, etc. I had thought we would limit this to the solar system (not the more comprehensive "Space"), but the boys really wanted to talk about black holes, so Sam took a day to teach about life cycles of stars too.

A couple general resources:

This solar system exploration model is interesting to look at---you can zoom in and out on the different planets, see their composition, etc. We were getting our information from other sources so we mostly just looked at the pictures here, but it looked like their info was pretty good too.

This is similar, but you can look at various stars, and change what time period you're looking at too.

Spacesounds is cool---you can listen to various recordings related to space---broadcasts from the Apollo Missons, the beeping transmission Sputnik sent out, doppler recordings from the sun, etc.

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