Exploring Nearby Space from In The Hands of A Child is an exciting curriculum to introduce basic concepts of space and our solar system to kindergarten through 3rd grade students. Upon completion of the unit the student will have made their own lapbook featuring highlights of the unit.
Exploring Nearby Space, available in a pdf download or CD, contains a study guide which is the main instructional material for the unit, a vocabulary word and definition list, templates for the mini books and vocabulary, directions for completing the mini books, and five bonus craft type activities. As this unit is geared to younger students there are also templates with the answers preprinted so all the learner needs to do is glue in the correct answer or trace the words before gluing it in the mini book. These labels are great in easing the burden of writing on younger learners.
There is also a section detailing the concept of a lapbook, needed supplies, and assembly directions for both the individual mini books and the whole lapbook. Numerous suggestions and tips for tailoring the unit to individual students are also a part of the educators’ materials. A bibliography containing related books and websites is also included.
My favorite part of the educators’ materials is the daily schedule. This uses a grid to show which vocabulary words, study guide sections, mini book activities, and ongoing activities are designed to be used in the same session and complement each other. This unit is designed to be studied in 7 days. This was the perfect breakdown for us as there is typically one day a week when we have outside activities and don’t do as may subjects at home. This gave us another day for assembling the lapbook and allowed us to finish the project in two weeks.
Another invaluable component of the unit is the pictures of a completed lapbook using the mini books found in the study. The directions for completing the mini books are very clear in Exploring Nearby Space, but sometimes it helps to have a finished project to refer to.
Topics covered in Exploring Nearby Space are:
- Exploration tools
- Solar System
- Planets and their location
- The major stars in our solar system
- The moon and its phases
- Moon exploration and landing are briefly explained as well as other space exploration
Information learned from the study guide is recorded in a mini book. Each of the listed topics has their own mini book, with two for stars and exploration tools. Additionally, vocabulary from the unit is recorded on small cards which fit in their own pocket. This makes it easy to take the cards out and refer to the words when the child is reviewing or sharing their work.
My 8 year old son really enjoyed this activity pack, even though he is at the upper end of stated age range. He has always been very interested in space and is eager to learn more. Because of his age and abilities I did not give him many of the preprinted answers to glue in the mini books, instead having him write the short one or two word answers. He did use the preprinted vocabulary definitions.
The one part of construction I did not have him do was the cutting. He finds this a challenging skill and desires the pieces to be cut just right, so I do this to avoid frustration.
The length of the study guide readings were just right to keep his attention and interest. This text is neither long nor complicated, but provides sufficient information to teach the student without overwhelming them. This is the same with the hands on parts as well. The material and activities assigned for each day were of an appropriate length so he could accomplish them before tiring or becoming bored with the topic.
I know he learned the material we studied because when we have been outside and seen the moon, he has tried to determine if it is a waxing or waning gibbous moon and exactly where in the cycle it is.
We did encounter two challenges with this unit. The first was finding the books listed in the bibliography, as my library did not have the exact titles listed. However, I had no trouble finding substitutes which were very similar. It is not necessary to have any additional books to complete the unit, but they do add to the study. The other challenge was the difficulty of the bonus word search activity.
There are so many helps and materials included in the unit, it should be fairly easy to customize for an individual learner.
You may view a sample for this curriculum at In The Hands of A Child.
One addition we made to the file folders was to fill in some of the blank areas with several space related foam sticker shapes.
In The Hands Of A Child produces lapbook and notebook units on many topics for preschool through high school. Available formats include e-book (pdf) and printed ready to use, with variations of both to suit any need and level.
Disclaimer: I received a free download of this product in order to write this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.