Create a classroom that transports kids into outer space the moment they step foot in the room. Combine traditional space elements, such as the planets in the Milky Way solar system, along with new discoveries found through modern day exploration. Help children feel comfortable with subject matter that can be unsettling by encouraging your class to participate in the decorations you hang. Numerous web sites offer a variety of activities, art projects and templates, when searching for materials.
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The Milky Way
Get your students excited about coming into the classroom by including them in the decorating process. Prior to starting this project, hold a class discussion about all the planets in the Milky Way solar system, and instruct children to select their favourite one. Help each student print an online template or trace their planet's outline from a large illustrated book. Complete this step on coloured construction paper that reflects some distinctive planetary element. For example, if a child chooses Mars he would cut out a red or orange outline. Instruct all kids to decorate the planet according to its natural properties. Use letter stencils to add each child's name, as well as the planet's name, to the front of the finished planet cut out. Affix the art around the classroom on walls, notice boards or doors.
Introduce students to the idea of planetary existence outside the Milky Way solar system by using current data and research for decoration inspiration. Choose from the newly-classified dwarf planets similar to Pluto, such as Ceres -- which was once known as the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars -- to the many stars and asteroids outside of the Milky Way, which were found using advanced satellites and telescopes. Instruct students to design and decorate these stars or dwarf planets, and label them accordingly. Glue these pictures onto an 11 by 14 inch piece of coloured paper, and write three facts concerning the image along the bottom of the page. Tell your kids to add two additional statements reflecting what they personally wish would be true about a new planet or star. For example, they may write, "I wish the planet hid chocolate bars at the base of its mountains" or "I want the ocean to be made of cheese."
Space Program Inspiration
Use the U.S. space program as a means to engage students about national history, as well as outer space in general. Take inspiration from organisations like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its fleet of space shuttles, which have played a large part in U.S. space exploration, and create thematic decorations. Online templates are available for a basic rocket ship outline, or trace specific shuttle images from illustrated science books. Hold a classroom discussion addressing the different missions and the duties required of each mission's shuttle crew. Instruct students to select the mission that interests them. Endeavour, Atlantis, Challenger and Discovery are all suitable space shuttles with long histories of space flight. Have your students decorate and cut out an astronaut's uniform or trace an astronaut's face. Hang all the shuttles and astronaut artwork around the classroom, or create a single notice board to collectively display them.
Bubble letters decorated with outer space themes are available online for free downloading at web sites, such as Space Jr. Make one copy of each letter sheet for every student in your classroom. Instruct your children to use markers, coloured pencils or crayons to decorate their letters. Students who want to craft sparkly letters can use glitter pens. Cover one classroom wall in black paper and have your kids cut out a sun on yellow construction paper, then glue the image to the top right corner of the black paper. Add a crescent moon to the left side, and line the edges of the paper with various stars. Help kids staple their decorated letter pages in columns that line the centre of the black area.
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