Earth and Space Science

Elementary Astronomy

Hi everyone! I am a preservice teacher and my favorite science topic is space. Astronomy can be difficult for elementary students to grasp because it is only seen in pictures. Are there any good articles or journals I can look into on how to implement astronomy in elementary classrooms? I feel this is important because students have many misconceptions about space. Thank you!

Danielle Campbell
Danielle Campbell
200 Activity Points

Hi Danielle,

Sandy Gady created a collection titled Astronomy Elementary Collection that might be helpful. It includes journal articles, podcasts and an archived Web Seminar - check it out:

Astrid Rivarola also created a collection titled Astronomy in Elementary Collection that includes journal articles and a couple of Science Objects. You can find it here:

Take a look through these resources and let us know if they help!


Megan Doty
Megan Doty
6832 Activity Points

Hi Danielle!

I am an Elem Ed student and in a workshop for one of my classes we did this really neat experiment that shows how far the distance is between the planets. Using toilet paper and markers we made a scale model of the Solar System with the Sun being the edge of the toilet paper and then moving outwards for each planet. If you want your students to see the shape of the solar system as well, you could take them outside and do this on a larger scale designating different objects or even students as each planet. To go even further you could have them move as the Solar System does.

I hope this is helpful and not super confusing. Good luck!

Sydney McCain
Sydney McCain
985 Activity Points

Cris DeWolf
11155 Activity Points

Hi Danielle,

You mentioned in your post that students often have misconceptions about astronomy. One of the books I'd highly recommend to be in your teacher 'tool box' is Uncovering Student Ideas in Astronomy: 45 New Formative Assessment Probes

"What do your students know—or think they know—about what causes night and day, why days are shorter in winter, and how to tell a planet from a star? Find out with this book on astronomy, the latest in NSTA’s popular Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series. The 45 astronomy probes provide situations that will pique your students’ interest while helping you understand how your students think about key ideas related to the universe and how it operates. The book is organized into five sections: the Nature of Planet Earth; the Sun-Earth System; Modeling the Moon; Dynamic Solar System; and Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe. As the authors note, it’s not always easy to help students untangle mistaken ideas. Using this powerful set of tools to identify students’ preconceptions is an excellent first step to helping your students achieve scientific understanding."

Many of the preservice and inservice science teachers I work with have used these probes with their students,

This is a free probe about Shorter Days in Winter to give you an idea about the probes

"The purpose of this probe is to elicit students’ ideas about the changing length of daylight with the change in seasons. The probe is designed to find out if students can relate the apparent path of the Sun as seen from Earth to the length of daylight. The sample chapter also included the Table of Contents, Introduction, and Index."

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42010 Activity Points

Hi Danielle,

I am also a pre-service elementary education teacher and enjoy Earth and Space Science very much, as well! I am currently in a workshop that has been utilizing multiple engaging activities that can be implemented for students at the elementary level. One activity was about creating a poster advertising a movie about a planet and when presenting you could discuss all the facts of the planet and why you would want to watch the movie about this planet or visit the planet. It was fun, engaging, and really got you thinking.

I highly recommend this article "The Many Levels of Inquiry" about inquiry-based learning. Creating lessons the are inquiry-based can be a fun, engaging way to get students thinking and curious about the topic they are learning.

Another option is informal learning, such as the Maryland Science Center, or other museums focuses on science, specifically space. A suggestion could be to try to see if they're websites offer any information about activities and what they're exhibits have to offer.

Hope this helps!


The Many Levels of Inquiry (Journal Article)

Vanessa Gonzalez
Vanessa Gonzalez
755 Activity Points

I love this idea! I have seen astronomy night done in college campuses but not on the elementary level. I believe the students will be extremely involved in activities involving astronomy and a night can be used as a review for Earth science.

Isis Mena
Isis Mena
1525 Activity Points

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