Sun, moon and stars – child-led space unit

The night sky has always fascinated V. Obviously, it is magnificent to look at, always changing and mysterious. Montessori says, “The strength of imagination in a child under six is usually expended on toys and fairy tales, but surely we can give him real things to imagine about, so putting him in more accurate relationship with the environment.” So we never really told her sweet stories of the sun going to sleep and gave her the truth like it is. One of her first questions on space was about the moon. “

Where is the moon in the morning?”

The day and night conundrum! We explained that we can see the sun in the daytime and the moon, at night. But why? Her dad explained the whole rotation of the Earth concept. All we needed was a torch light and a ball in a dark room to understand this glorious magic of night and day.

“Is the Earth a planet?”

A planets model we love

Yea, why didn’t we see this coming! We pulled out our DIY planets painting kit and spoke about the different planets. It was a wonderful painting and bonding activity. This also gave us an opportunity to talk about planet sizes, their distances from the sun and colours. We had fun predicting climates, flora and fauna of the planets based on their distance from the sun. And we touched upon rings and moons, as well.

Why does the moon keep changing?

A simple phases of the moon activity with Oreos

She keeps observing the moon every night and noticed it growing “big and small”. We decided to record our observations in a journal to find out if there was a pattern to it. We understood that it grows “big” until it reaches the full moon stage and then small again. Once, we tried the same experiment with the torch light for this one, but we are yet to figure this one out.
We did a few play based learning with oreos. This can be done with white play-doh and a butter knife, too. We did a moon themed sensory play white clay, glitter, astronaut figurines and

“What about the stars?

Well, what about them? They twinkle. But that was not enough for her. Why do we see so many stars on some days and at some places but hardly any on other days? She figured out the answer to this one very recently- smoke and cloud cover prevent us from seeing them.

We have done a lot of sensory play with stars, and the Oliver Jeffers book is her favourite fiction about this topic. You can read my review of the book here. She recently came upon constellations in another book and is researching upon them at the moment. Fortunately for me, I know nothing about that, and hope to learn more in the coming months.

Part of a whole

The pertinent question of where we fit in among the sun, moon and stars keeps popping up every now and then. It is a great reality check that there are elements much bigger than us. We are but a tiny speck (just like all other beings) on a planet which is a part of a galaxy like millions others.


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