Teacher's Toolkit - Grades K-2
This toolkit is designed to help you make the most of your Planetarium visit. Refer to the following list for easy navigation:
- Before Your Visit
- During Your Visit
- After Your Visit
- Learning Activities
Various activities, videos, websites, and audio clips for students. Also refer to the corresponding Grades K-2 Notes & Discussion Topics page.
Before Your Planetarium Visit
Please consider incorporating the questionnaires below into your lesson plan:
- Pre-Visit Questionnaire (.doc) or (.pdf)
- Post-Visit Questionnaire (.doc) or (.pdf)
- Answers to Questionnaires (.doc) or (.pdf)
You could also compile a list of astronomical questions from your students and bring it with you and/or send it to Jean in advance. There is a question period during your visit where we could discuss these and other questions as time permits.
Discuss these questions with your students prior to your visit, to stimulate their curiosity:
- How does the Sun affect us?
- What do you see in the sky?
- How do objects in the sky move and change?
- What is a star?
- What is a planet?
- How do the Earth and Moon move and change?
During Your Planetarium Visit
Please arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled visit. Locate the restrooms in the Physics Building lobby and give students the opportunity to use them. The theater doors lock after the show starts and it will be disturbing to allow visitors back into the Planetarium.
Please remind your students to be quiet in the hallways. UWM classes may be in session.
The students will have the opportunity to:
- Look at the sky on the evening of the Planetarium visit
- Point to stars, planets and the Moon if visible from Milwaukee
- Enjoy a beautiful dark sky away from city lights (for this age group, the dark sky portion is kept shortened)
- Move their bodies to model the Earth's rotation as the cause for night and day.
- Recognize geometric shapes in the constellations
- Realize that the constellations are the basis for many cultural stories
- Tour the solar system and look at images of main objects in the solar system
- See how the sky changes during the course of the night
- Ask an astronomer questions
Supplementary Activities for an Additional Fee (Optional Hands-On Activities)
At your option (Additional $30-$60 depending on group size), the following activities offered during your visit:
After Your Planetarium Visit
Remind the students how they responded to the Pre-Visit Questionnaire at the top of this page, and invite them to discuss:
- How their thoughts have changed
- The reasoning behind their thoughts
- What they have learned
Use the Post-Visit Questionnaire as a model for additional discussion. Use their responses to correct misconceptions that students may have developed - through further questioning, class participation, and other textbook activities.
To gauge students' comprehension, you may invite them to:
- Share their planetarium experiences verbally
- Draw what they saw or experienced at the planetarium
- Present their drawings to the class and explain them
Listed below are the major themes for grades K-2. You might find information for a topic under several themes. Also refer to the corresponding Grades K-2 Notes & Discussion Topics page.
Theme One: Astronomical Objects In The Day/Night Sky
1. The Sun is the closest star to us
Activity: Have students draw objects in the night (or day sky) on dark pieces of paper and discuss the objects that students drew. Find out what they know.
a. The Sun is a Star!
- Online Book: "Our Very Own Star The Sun" (English/Spanish)
b. The Sun gives us Heat and Light
c. The Sun is the Largest Object in our Solar System
- Video: Bill Nye on "The Sun is the largest object in our solar system"
- Website: Kids Astronomy: Our Solar System
d. The Sun and other Celestial Objects move across the Sky
- Video for teachers: The Earth travels around Sun while traveling through our galaxy
e. Integrate the Sun with Art and Music:
2. The Moon is the Earth's only Natural Satellite
a. Moon light is Reflected Light from the Sun
- Activity: Bouncing Sunlight (Sun's reflected light on the Moon)
- Activity: Moon Phases (Advanced K-2) (The most effective tool that shows why the Moon has phases. The Activity-Moon journal can be simplified for all levels.)
3. Stars are Big Balls of Gas that Make their own Light
- Activity: Make edible star cookies
4. Planets (Earth is a planet) go around Stars
- Website: Information on the planets
Theme Two: The Solar System
1. Overview of Solar System: 1 star, 8 planets, and many small objects
- Activity: Edible solar system
- Activity: Solar System in your Pocket
(Shows the relative distances between the Sun and the planets)
Theme Three: Earth/Moon/Sun Interactions
1. Rotation of the Earth: Evidence is Day and Night
- Activity: Relative size of Sun, Moon, Earth (G1-3)
- Activity: What Makes Day and Night?
- Interactive/Audio Lesson: As The Earth Turns (What makes day and night)
- Activity: What Makes Light? (Observing day and night)
a. Interaction of the Earth and Sun
- Activity: What Makes Shadows? (Observing shadows)
- Activity: Telling Time with the Sun and Shadows
Sundials: Observing and Using Shadows
Make a Shadow Clock!
- Activity: Students in dark room with a lamp (the Sun). Have one student be the Moon and one the Earth so they can figure out how to get a solar or a lunar eclipse.
- Video: Partial Solar Eclipse (Jan. 2011 as seen from around the world)
- Video: Total Solar Eclipse
Readings: Grades K-2
- Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
- If You Decide to Go to the Moon, Faith McNulty
- Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System, Joanna Cole
- The Magic School Bus Sees Stars, Joanna Cole
- Autumn Leaves, Leland B. Jacobs, Harcourt Science, T50
- Our Tree, Marchette Chute, Harcourt science, T51
- Our Changing Year, Kathryn Corbett, Harcourt Science, T54
- Excellent presentation! Thank you!" –Anderson, Grade 5, Lake Bluff
“It was a good introduction for the kids who haven’t learned too much yet. I think it peaked their interest for future learning.” –Prostek, Grades K-5, Hayes
“Wonderful experience for the children. Nice that they were able to participate through the whole program.” –Ms. Wendy, Grade 1, Highland Community School
“Wonderful…reviewed concepts and introduced extra so it met different levels of students. Instructor did a great job keeping them engaged.” –Lisa Lathe, Grade 2, General Mitchell
“Students were very engaged and it tied in well with what we covered in class. Dr. Jean did a nice job with our kids.” –Northern Ozaukee, Grade 2
We would like to thank the National Science Foundation for its support of the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The teachers who contributed resources for the UWM Planetarium webpage—Ms. Jeanine Gelhaus (Medford Middle School), Ms. Karen Green (Milwaukee Public Schools High School Science Teaching Specialist), and Mr. McDonald (Alexander Mitchell School)—were all recipients of a RET grant at UWM (2011, 2007, 2008). For more information on this grant opportunity and how to apply see http://www4.uwm.edu/ret/.