My kids have been really into space lately, so I’ve created a fun and engaging curriculum on this topic including some great activities and free printables! It’s been a joy embarking on a homeschool subject that is a serious interest for the kids! It became one of those topics that we just started getting deeper and deeper into. At one point, my 5-year-old asked to turn his bedroom into a planetarium which we are continually adding too. His knowledge is VAST!
Child Led Learning with Prompts
I have some great books about planets like Nat Geo First Big Book of Space and the Discovery Plus Space book. I find that sometimes, just leaving the books out on the coffee table is the best way to approach this. If that doesn’t work, I will generally start reading out loud while they are doing other things like coloring and after a few pages I might set the book down. Often enough the kids will pick it up and read it all the way through.
Free Planets Printable
I also made this fun coloring and labeling printable to go along with the books: planets in order
Child Directed Activities
My 5-year-old then asked if we could make the planets. I thought about this and we decided to try paper mache for the first time. Note that this project is not for the faint of heart! As I am a total neat freak, I insisted on doing all of the paper mache-ing, but they helped with the balloons and tearing up the paper. When the planets dried, we all painted them together. This was fantastic because we would reference the books as questions came up – What color is Jupiter? How big is Mars? And then configuring them – Which ones are closest to the sun? This project continued over a series of weeks and when it was finally finished, it was a true celebration! The final product now hangs proudly in my son’s room.
The Planetarium and Moons
Next up, we visited the local planetarium and watched a show on moons that was fascinating! We already knew the planet basics, but then we started getting into the moons – how do they form? Why do some planets have many and some have none? What about our moon, how does it change? We found a cool free printable from Education.com
And I also made this one myself which you are welcome to download: moon phases
One of the boys started exploring moon cycles and the other started looking into the biggest moons and learning their names. We got a couple fun accessories for our planetarium themed bedroom.
Hands On Discovery
Next up, let’s be astronauts for a day! We visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Here we could see a real rover in action, pretend we are commanding a spaceship, feel what the sand on Mars might be like.
Applying Curriculum to Real Life
Child led learning doesn’t necessarily have to stop once we move onto a new curriculum. We can continue to apply our knowledge to everyday life. I still subscribe to the local paper and I always scan it for homeschool related headlines. So, we are currently following New Horizons and the kids are genuinely interested in the updates! And how cool is it to read the paper when you’re eight and actually piece together what you are reading with knowledge that already exists in your head?
To me, child-led learning is fostering a love of learning, whether it be space or dinosaurs or historical ships. I try to focus our curriculum around their joy to learn as opposed to how much they are learning. Who knows if they’ll remember what the Kuiper Belt is or how many moons Jupiter has, but they will likely forever have an interest in space, they will probably remember their love for the subject and their awe in the unknown.