This year, we're studying space as part of our science curriculum. We've generally been following the plan of study outlined in The Well-Trained Mind (though, as I mentioned a while back, I have decided to be a bit less stringent in how we do things at this point. I think we'll still follow the same general schedule, but with more experimenting, reading, and project time.)
The first planet up: Mercury!
The base text we're using this year is Visual Factfinders Stars and Planets. It's great for providing structure and at-a-glance information. We usually augment the information in the text with books from our library visits, as well as web sites and videos that add another dimension to what we're learning. (Note: this is one of the ways I don't strictly follow the tenets of Classical education. We watch videos and look at websites to enforce what we've already learned. Words (reading and writing) are wonderful, and are the basis of our learning, but I think you miss out when you don't make use of everything available -- including video and interactive web sites.)
With that in mind, here are a few things we've enjoyed using!
Websites about the Planet Mercury
- Kids Astronomy - Mercury
- NinePlanets.org - Mercury
- NASA Solar System Exploration - Mercury
- CalTech's Ask an Astronomer - Mercury
- National Geographic - Mercury
Online Video About Mercury
Books About Mercury
There are tons of books about there about the planets, and honestly, they're all great for the photos and drawings alone -- getting a visual of the planet is great for helping your kids really be able to picture what it is that they're learning about. With that in mind, here are three that we've really liked:
Mercury (Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers: Space Science)
Mercury (True Books: Space)
While it's not technically a children's book, we also like looking through our Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets. There are plenty of pictures to look at, and we always learn a new fact or two when we leaf through it.
Putting it All Together
So, what do we do with all of this information? Generally, we just read and discuss. But for each planet, we're also putting together a notebooking page. Then, at the end of our study of all of the planets, we'll put our notebooking pages together into a book, and the kids can make a great cover for it.
I didn't like any of the available notebooking pages, so I made my own (and I'll make a matching one for each of the planets). If you'd like to download a .pdf of my Mercury notebooking page, you can do so here: Mercury Notebooking Page.
Learning about space was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. It is a lot of fun to see my kids just as intrigued about "what's out there" as I was.
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