Sharing my FREE homeschooling resources that I have encountered online.
Including videos, paper craft, and worksheets that have been big hits with my little ones on their journey to the stars!
Homeschooling is a humbling experience and what is even more humbling is looking up at the night sky.
So massive and revealing and yet mysterious and abstract. Check out my features on the beautiful night-scapes captured out here in the Big Bend desert of West Texas.
To many we are in the “middle of nowhere,” but to us its definitely the “middle of somwhere.” My in-laws live in the “big city” in a gated community among other retirees and the word spread that we live out here. Lucky for us bewilderment and sympathy abounds for our far-flung status and often results in some pretty groovy cast-offs. One spurred our most recent educational path to astronomy is a telescope.
If you don’t have a telescope – I’ve read that binoculars are actually a better way to start. I can be rather impatient, so I am glad “Magnum” is participating with this. I think I may have abandoned ship with the telescope pretty darn early. You have to be extraordinarily patient the more powerful the magnification ability of the scope.
My little ones are also fascinated with the fantastical characters and worlds in Greek Mythology, so astronomy was all eventual. “In the stars” as they say. “Magnum” and I are both rather blind when it comes to astronomy. Thank goodness he is at least handy, so he’s tackling the mechanics of the telescope and I’m doing the homeschooling with projects/videos/learning tools to engage and hopefully sustain their blossoming interests.
We started with a couple of weeks on the Solar System overall.
Again, I am primarily sharing FREE printables and/or sources that I have been lucky enough to unearth online. It can be quite an endeavor to go through all that is available. Many are redundant and some not as clear or interesting, so I thought it may be worth sharing for those traveling on the same learning paths.
The one thing I do spend money on is a library resource, but we are voracious readers so we also use Amazon’s Kindle ebooks for free downloads.
In my lesson plans I always try to hit the following:
- worksheets – I always start with teacherspayteachers.com.
- videos – PBS for kids and youtube are my go-tos.
- paper crafts/projects or experiments – my first resource is always Canon’s Creative Park for paper crafts and experiments I just google or again use teacherspayteachers.com.
- songs – teacherspayteachers.com.
Here we go — My Introduction to the Solar System finds:
1. Paper 2-D rendition of the Solar System — Fairly simple with just a bit of cutting and gluing to do. This was a handy visual for my little ones – they love spinning the mobile, seeing how the planets orbit around the sun.
Click image above for the Canon Creative Park site. Warning: awesome FREE paper craft printables awaits!
2. The Planets Song video — with Nick Jr.’s Blues Clues
“Cottontail” loves having a song with every lesson. It really helps her get excited about it.
3. Videos – Planets introduction > View of Earth from Space > Moon craters
- Solar System Poster – images of the planets relative size to each other and lined up in order with facts listed for each.
- Paper model project of Earth, Sun, & Moon in orbit – Great little project to illustrate their paths relative to each other.
- Order of Planets Mnemonic Device – A cute hands-on way of remembering the planets order!
We also had a couple of bonfires with marshmallows (of course!) to get that fun and darkness connotation firmly impressed. There is so much to delve in with the Solar System, but it was a nice way to get your feet wet and the kiddos interested before going into the Constellations!
— My Introduction to Looking at the Stars aka Astronomy finds:
1. Free Skymap – Click image below for the free Skymap printable. Enter the month and time to get an overview of possible constellations up in your sky.
2. Free Constellation Printables from Lie Back, Look Up blog
- Cards with images on one side and names on the other.
- We started off just going outside and looking up. Without a reference to fall back on – we could not locate any of the constellations. There are free apps for your fancy phones for this, but we didn’t want to rely too much on the technology without using our noggin a bit – brain likes its exercise!
- Stargazing Diary
- “Cottontail” really liked this. She liked drawing her own constellations and tracking the changes in the moon.
3. Free printable – “Stars: Best Way to Learn the Night Sky”
- Great printable with an overview and tips on the constellation viewing.
4. Videos that were the most approachable for my little ones. They are outgrowing their training wheels and I honestly thought that the content would be over their heads, but they were eager to watch more videos with this lovely lady.
“Its not too fast, mommy! We love her – more videos please!”
Afterwards we went over the main ideas and the concepts really did hit their targets.
We watched the first one as an overview of what stars are and how they’re different from planets and how to discern them.
Like she insists in the video, it takes a lot of patience and steady observation to really witness and practice the difference between a star versus other objects in the sky.
Then we watched the next couple of videos that discuss the constellations and how to approach observing them.
6. Amazon Kindle e-Books — All currently free.
Finally, our main book resource:
A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky
I wasn’t sure how my kids would tackle the illustrations for the constellations, but they didn’t seem to mind the whimsical free-hand way they were presented. The book is full of illustrations with great details, so they like to sit and go through all every page before we embark on the reading and discussion. Overall, they thoroughly enjoyed the brief stories with the constellations.
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