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Our Sky Inquiry

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I have found that most of the interests that the kids show me that lead to inquiries have something to do with the world around them. I have wanted so much to do an inquiry on the ocean or rainforest but they rarely get as excited about those as they do what is going on in our room or in the world outside our window!  Ohio's science standards include inquiring about the sky, specifically the sun, moon, and stars.  To see if I could hook them into this inquiry, I took them outside and we each found a quiet spot to "look closer" at the sky.

We gathered together and discussed what we saw, thought and wondered about the sky.

They wanted to record what they noticed about the sky so we grabbed our clipboards, paper and tool bags and made observational drawings of the sky. They also wrote what they saw, thought or wondered. 

They were hooked! There was so much that they wanted to know about the sky!
-How does the sun move across the sky?
-Why is the sky blue but in space it is black?
-How does the moon change shape? 
-We need the sun, but do we need stars?
-Can we see the moon in the day?
-How was the moon made?
-How are clouds made?
-How do clouds move?

Based on our discussions, I set up some experiences to explore and found books and videos to help us with our investigation. They had discussed that the sky can be many different colors. As we looked closer they noticed that the sky was many different shades of blue.  This sparked a discussion about the colors of sunsets. I set up colors in our Art Studio to alow them to explore and show what they noticed. Blues were on one side, reds, oranges and yellows were on the other. 

We displayed what they noticed in the hallway. 

I set out some books, pictures, and materials for them to record what they might see, think and wonder about the moon.

They thought it was interesting that the moon didn't really change shape. It is always a sphere, but that the sun's light and shadow create the different shapes. 

They also learned that the moon orbits the earth. 

The kids were fascinated by the moons rough surface. They learned that it had not only craters but mountains! I mixed flour with white paint and they used it to create the moon with its rough, rocky surface. They used a water bottle to make the craters, then wrote something new they learned about the moon. 

also set out some books, items and materials for them to explore the stars. 

They learned why they look so small (because they are so far away), and that if you connect them they make pictures called constellations.  They enjoyed creating their own. 

Below, this friend is documenting that he noticed the stars were not all white but also blue and red! He was very excited to share this discovery with the class!

We then found out that each color star was a different temperature. 

We also learned that stars have a cycle and our sun is our very own star that is so close we can see it in the daytime!

I had a small area where they could explore about the sun and create the sun using spin art. 

They took a closer look at the sun to show what it looks like in the hallway. 

They painted it...complete with solar flares...

and wrote facts we had learned about the sun. 

We then showed how the earth goes around the sun (I guess we should have put the earth a bit closer).

The kids found out that it takes one year for the earth to travel around the sun. I posed the question, "So how many times have you traveled around the sun?" This was a great way for them to understand that for every year they have lived they have traveled around the sun that many times! We used this opportunity to document how the earth moves around the sun. 

Kids are always fascinated about the world around them. They didn't initially show interest in the sky, but once I had them look closer, there was no stopping them!

With only one week of school left, I know exactly how to keep them exploring for a few more days! Just wait and see what our last mini inquiry will be as we end our school year!

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