Sky Observations by the Book by: Kathy Cabe Trundle and Mesut Sackes

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The National Science Education Standards (NSES) state that students in grades K—4 are expected to understand that astronomical objects in the sky, including the Sun, Moon, and stars—have properties, locations, and patterns of movement that can be observed and described. They further suggest using an inquiry-based approach to teach these science concepts. However, there are several challenges in teaching space science concepts through actual observation. To address these concerns, the authors share two inquiry-based astronomy lessons for young children using selected trade books and real sky images via computer.

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Reviews (5)
  • on Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:37 AM

This resource is a excellent starting location for a new teacher when preparing to teach about planetary motion. It begins by explaining how to find useful resources and pointing out the importance of identifying and drawing attention to misconceptions. The article follows through a progression of lessons that can be changed and adapted for most primary grade levels, but focus on Preschool and Kindergarten.

Matt  (Columbia, Maryland)
Matt (Columbia, Maryland)

  • on Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:33 PM

Trade books are powerful tools in developing both literacy skills and introducing astronomy concepts to young children. The article warns us that while books are powerful tools, we need to make sure the books are accurate in their representation of the Science. If there are misconceptions either in the text or in the illustrations, we are only reinforcing misconceptions. The article tells us common misconceptions of the moon found in children’s books include: “Crescent moons change in size in length and width as if the Moon is getting closer to and farther away from Earth; objects like stars appearing where the unlit part of the Moon should be; shapes of the moon that cannot be observed in nature, and only showing the Moon during the nighttime sky.” Throughout the article, the authors provide strategies for effective instruction using nonfiction text and guiding questions to lead students to understanding. Books referenced in the article include: Noisy City Day, Noisy City Night. Twilight Comes Twice, Good Night Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Sandra Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandra Gady (Renton, WA)

  • on Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:57 AM

Using trade books to teach about astronomy is not a simple task. First you must pick a book that doesn’t promote misconceptions and is the correct age and developmental level for the target audience. This article suggests several trade books to explain what objects are in the sky, what can be seen during twilight and nighttime, about comparing skies, and movements in the sky. Two computer websites are also provided to make sure students understand about viewing the skies at night.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:05 PM

This is a nice progression of activities to use with early elementary students combining real-life observations and the focusing of the children’s observations of the skies in several books for young readers. Although the questioning seems repetitive, it is exactly the kind of concentration needed for kids that age to make their own connections. A very nice set of activities.

Allison Cooke
Allison Cooke

  • on Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:50 PM

I found this article to be very useful for primary grade teachers. It gives guidelines on how to select books that are scientifically accurate and how to address incorrect images with students when present in books. The article suggests some good activity and book ideas to lay the foundation for student understand about what objects appear in the day and night skies, which leads into describing their movements and positions relative to earth, which is a later concept.

Kate Geer  (Louisville, CO)
Kate Geer (Louisville, CO)

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