Thematic Teaching for Space Studies


In Virginia, our students’ study of space systems happens in fourth grade, so for my post, I am going to share content area reading ideas that I will try to use with my students to help them get a “double dip” of science. Here are a list of the specific standards our state uses:

The student will investigate and understand the relationships among the Earth, moon, and sun.
a) the motions of the Earth, moon, and sun (revolution and rotation);
b) the causes for the Earth’s seasons and phases of the moon;
c) the relative size, position, age, and makeup of the Earth, moon, and sun; and
d) historical contributions in understanding the Earth-moon-sun system.

Great Books about Space

The great thing about all of these books is that they include the nonfiction text features that my students are required to know and understand.  I am also able to select sections of these books that are relevant to their needs, showing them that with nonfiction we do not need to read from cover to cover. We read nonfiction to learn, discover, and explore, a little more than to inform. Of these books, we have multiple copies of the So That’s How the Moon Changes Shape, Our Earth, and Planet Earth.  They are all wonderful and written at a 3rd grade level, perfect for my students.

Free Resources for Space Studies

Children are fascinated by space exploration, and there are so many fun extension activities available on Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest. Here are a few of my favorites:

original-1080802-1-1425821How cute is this freebie. Kids take the pieces to create a space mini book. This is perfect for review, for interactive notebooks, or for a project to share in the hallway.

And how about this cute way for demonstrating rotation and revolution. Kids always seems to get this confused. Love this project.


original-364307-1-7574870If you’re trying to work in writing, this graphic organizer is perfect for planning an informational article about space. Simply put the topic at the topic sentence at the top followed by three detail sentences. Again, nice way to review what you’ve taught. This could also work as an exit ticket where kids put the big idea of the day in each block.
The phases of the moon is a main concept we teach in our space unit, so this freebie is a perfect. Use it to make a tabbed book, for sorting, or for a flipbook.

Need a way to help your students remember the phases of the moon? How about using this poem in your literacy block?
Finally, here’s one last experiment option.


Kids are fascinated by space, and so are adults. I hope these ideas will make your planning easier. For other ideas, check out the links below for other great ideas.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. What a great post! I have most of those books – I'll have to pull them this year for nonfiction text features. Brilliant!

  2. Thanks for commenting Erin! Next time, I hope to have some pictures, etc. to go with my post. This one was last minute with my room change, etc. Glad you got an idea or two.

  3. Hi, Carla! I just stumbled across your blog from Laura at Differentiation Creation Station. I LOVE your weekly Thursday Thematic Link Up! Can't wait for next week! I was just planning to blog about my Fall Frenzy pack! Is there anyway you can do an inlinkz link up, so we can add our links?

    Thanks for hosting!

    One Sharp Bunch

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