A Year-Long Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Space Project

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I have to take a moment to brag on another teacher and group of students in our school.  Kelly Hocking is an amazing Kindergarten teacher, and she has a talented group of Kindergarten students who are some of the biggest researchers and creators in our school.  I love how each year she finds something that her class takes an interest in and somehow weaves into every subject area and standard that they study in Kindergarten.  One year it was art.  Another year it was a study of maps and stretching the imagination.  This year it was space.

Kelly never knows at what point in the year something will pop up as an interest in her class, but this year it happened when they were doing a GoNoodle.  It happened to feature space, and it took the class into a series of questions and wonderings about space.

They started reading lots of books about space as well as studying the science standards about the day and night sky.

The more they read, the more they started to notice about space popping up in so many areas of their curriculum and life.

They launched into research mode and asked lots of questions.  In the library and classroom they used print and digital resources to learn about the planets and collect facts about each one.

In February, the class celebrated Fat Tuesday by dressing as planets and parading around the school.  Each costume was space-inspired and they handed out coins and beads to lots of classes.

Research continued in the classroom and the media center.  Students used all of their facts to write a series of notes.  In groups, the students put those notes in an order that made sense and prepared to make their own ebooks about space using the Storykit app.

At this point, we were approaching poetry month, so I suggested that the students think about space poetry.  I connected the class with several poetry books about space, and they started crafting some poems in class.  Ms. Kelly also has ukuleles in her classrooms, so the poems eventually were turned into songs with music composed by the students.

At our annual Poem In Your Pocket day, the groups of students performed their poetry songs for a live audience.  We even had poet, Laura Purdie Salas, listen in to the poetry since students were inspired by her space poems and songs.

At this point in the year, lots of attention turned to Mars and space exploration.  Students really didn’t want to travel to Mars themselves, but they did want to think about helping other people get there some day.  We created a Padlet to collect all of our research in the library and the classroom.

Eventually, the students wanted to start making some inventions to help Mars explorers, so we did a lot of tinkering in our Makerspace.  In class, students constructed elaborate prototypes of their inventions and did informational writing to accompany their creations.

If we had more time in our year, I’m sure Ms. Kelly and her students would have come up with even more miraculous things, but it truly was an amazing year of exploration and I’m glad that our library was a part of it.

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You can read more about the library parts of this project in these posts:

Why Do We Explore Space: A Virtual Field Trip Opportunity

Can a Foodini 3D Printer Go to Space?

Kindergarten Mission to Mars: A Makerspace Exploration

Kindergarten Researchers in Action

Also, you can view Ms. Kelly’s full deck of slides which includes lyrics to a cumulative song that explores all of the planets and the facts the students learned.  They performed this song at our end of the year assembly.

View the full slidedeck here.

Dr. Seuss Author Study Centers

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It has been some time since I did traditional types of centers that student rotate through.  Third grade is currently working on a Dr. Seuss author study as they close out the year, and they wondered what students might do in the library related to Dr. Seuss.  We looked at the days on the calendar along with everything that has to be done and decided that there wasn’t time to pull off a project around Dr. Seuss and really give it the time it needed.  Instead, we decided that I would give students some experiences to connect with Dr. Seuss as enrichment.

Before student arrived, I setup the 5 centers around the library so that they were somewhat in a circular arrangement.  I wrote the 5 centers on the whiteboard so that students could check the order as needed.

When students arrived, I explained each center very briefly and then we numbered off 1-5 to begin centers.  Each center lasted about 10 minutes before rotating to the next center.

Center 1: Tongue Twisters

Listen to our tongue twisters here!

I found a variety of tongue twister online as well as some Dr. Seuss books that had more tongue twisting lines than others.  At this center, students practiced reading tongue twisters from the table, recited ones they already knew, or even made up their own.  When they found one they were happy with, they recorded the tongue twister on Flipgrid.  They loved listening to how other students sounded and many students “liked” other student videos.  Most students recorded more than one tongue twister while at this station.  I had fun with one student writing a variation of Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.  Her family own a pickle business, so we were trying to change the words to match her family business.  We came up with “The Phickle Chickle picked a peck of Phickles Pickles.”  I encouraged her to continue writing her version and we would record it sometime.

Center 2: Checkout

Rather than waiting until the end to have students check out books, I made it a center.  Students could check out up to 5 books or just browse the library if they had enough books out already.

Center 3: Seussville on computers

I setup 5 Lenovo computers with the Seussville website pulled up.  Most of the students had never visited this site, so this gave them some time to explore the videos, games, and activities that fill this site.  Many found things that they wanted to print out and do later, so I hope some students discovered some summer activities.

Center 4: iPad apps

I downloaded 2 free iPad apps related to Dr. Seuss.  One is the Happy Birthday to You camera.  This was definitely the most popular app of the two.  Students enjoyed taking selfies or pictures of friends and then using the stickers to develop their own Seuss personality.  This would have been a great lead in to creative writing.  Students could have created their picture and then developed an accompanying story to match the picture.  The other app was the Dr. Seuss Fun Machine, but students moved away from it fairly quickly due to its simplicity and lack of clear instructions.

Center 5: Seuss books

We have SO MANY Dr. Seuss books in the library, but it’s amazing how many of them students have never seen or read.  I loved having a station built in where students could just spend time browsing Seuss books, reading along, or buddy reading.  This was a center that most of the teachers visited along with students to read with them or listen to them read.

This was a wonderful end of the year activity, but I saw several potential opportunities that could have taken us into a larger project or even just a follow-up lesson.  It reminded me that centers can serve many purposes and are still a great way to split students up into a variety of experiences.