Kindergarten

Teaching Methods Used In A Kindergarten Classroom

Kindergarten is the first time where the child actually is exposed to a classroom environment where there is less of playing and more of studies and sitting still. Kindergarten teachers use several teaching methods to ensure that each child is understand how a teaching method works. These methods are designed in a way which allows you to ensure that each student excels at what is to come. Many strategies are used to ensure that everything is done right.

 

Whole Group Instructions

This is often called as direct instruction where the teacher is telling the entire class to do the same thing at the same time. This may include activities like reading or demonstrating a talent. Many maths concepts are introduced. This is where class discussions, Q and A’s is used to instruct the whole group.

 

Small Group Instruction

Small Group

Sometime because of a large class it is easier for the kindergarten teacher to divide the class into small groups to ensure that an activity is completed. These activities involve colouring a map, completing a workbook or doing art project. The groups are often divided by ensuring that the students are on same level from complex projects. This is where the teachers introduce the concept of volunteering to help the group of children grow in their academics. Academic things like answering questions and demonstrating a topic falls under this instruction.

 

Individualized instruction


This type of instruction is also called a one on one instruction, where students are trying to give or receive information on a personal note. This information could be anything from receiving numbers or giving them individual projects. This can be a little difficult for the teachers but this can help the students with individual growth. This instructions can be listening to one student, reading out loud, going over a journal entry or just to improve the child’s handwriting skills. This can be tricky as other students should not feel left out which can cause them to loose interest.

 

Differentiated instruction

The kindergarten teachers have to learn a lot, this is where differentiated instructions come into play. This method requires to understand the students who learns more effectively and tailor the instruction for those who need it. This is where the teacher has to assign the assignment to meet the needs of students. If you think that the child is visual learner it is important that she models the assignment and demonstrate the concept she is teaching to help better understand the subject. There are many different tools and books which one can make use of when trying to explain the academic to the students which will increases the chances of the child to be successful in his academic career.

Color, Colorcito

This game has lots of advantages—not only does it give kids a chance to run around and get some exercise, but it also sharpens their observation skills; helps younger children with their colors; and exposes children to another language and culture.

 

Preparation
Read the instructions carefully to familiarize yourself with the rules. You might also print out the Spanish color names (see “Make it Better”).

 

Suggested Materials
A large open space and your students
1
MAKE IT
Matter
Opening Discussion
Ask your students if they have ever played tag before. What are the rules of tag? What is the goal? Do any of your students speak Spanish, or know any Spanish words? Can any of them name some colors in Spanish? Tell them that you are going to play a game called “Color, Colorcito”, which is a game that children in Spain sometimes play. “Color, Colorcito” means “color, little color”, and the game is usually played outdoors in a park or schoolyard.

 

The Challenge
Play this game of tag from Spain and see how fast you and your powers of observation are!

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Doing the Activity
This game is played with the entire group of children together, and is best played in a large space outdoors, though you could play it in a large indoor space as well. Before the game begins, stress that children be safe, as they will be running around.
The rules of the game are simple: The players take turns being “It”, the one who has to tag others. The It Person says “Color, little color” and then names a color. The other players have to run to find something that is the color that was selected. The It Person runs after the other players and tries to tag them before they can touch the colored item. If the It Person tags someone, that person is out. The game continues until the It Person has tagged everyone, then a new player becomes the It Person.
Play the game in English for a few rounds, then gather children together to talk about the game.

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Let’s Talk About It
After playing a few times, gather everyone together to talk about the game. Was it easy or hard to find the different colors? Do they think they could play the game in another language? Tell them that you would now like them to try the game in Spanish.

 

4
MAKE IT
Better
Build On What They Talked About
Play the game again, but this time in Spanish. Instead of saying “Color, Little Color”, the person who is “It” should say “Color, Colorcito”, then name a color in Spanish. See the list below of colors and their Spanish translation. You might want to print this list out or write it down for reference. If your students do not know any Spanish, choose 2 or 3 colors to start them out with, then gradually introduce new colors.

 

Colors in Spanish:

Color – Spanish Word
Black – Negro (NEH-Grow)
Blue – Azul (ah-ZOOL)
Brown – Marrón (mah-ROWN)
Green – Verde (VAIR-day)
Grey – Gris (Greese)
Orange – Naranja (nah-RAN-ha)
Pink – Rosado (ro-SAH-doe)
Purple – Violeta (vee-oh-LET-ah)
Red – Rojo (RO-ho)
White – Blanco (BLAHNK-oh)

Yellow – Amarillo (ah-ma-REE-yo)

 

 

How does milk turn into cheese?

How does milk turn into cheese?

Much of the food we eat started out as something else. Bread comes from wheat, ketchup comes from tomatoes and cheese and butter come from milk. The process by which these foods are created is often a mystery to children, and by experimenting with making their own versions of these foods, they can begin to understand and have a greater appreciation for the fuel they are putting into their bodies.

 

Suggested Materials

Skim milk
Vinegar
Lemon juice
Coffee filters or cheesecloth
Clear 9 – 16 ounce plastic cups (4 cups per team)
Rubber bands
Plastic spoons
Measuring cups
Eyedroppers

 

Preparation
Make some cheese ahead of time so you are familiar with the process. See Make it Happen instructions.

 

For this activity, teams will each need 2 empty cups, 1 rubber band, 1 coffee filter or small piece of cheesecloth and a spoon. Prepare small cups of lemon juice and vinegar for each team (just a couple of teaspoons per cup).

 

1
MAKE IT
Matter
Opening Discussion
Ask your students to name as many different foods as they can that are made with milk. How do they think milk is turned into those foods? If cheese is not listed, you should mention it and ask kids to name all of the different kinds of cheese they know of. How are some of these cheeses different from each other (flavor, color, hard or soft, etc.)?

 

The Challenge
Can you make your own cheese?

 

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MAKE IT
Happen
Doing the Activity
You may want to demonstrate this process to your students before having them attempt it.
Divide your class into teams of 2 or 3.
Measure ¼ cup of skim milk into one of the plastic cups.
If using eyedroppers (recommended), add a few drops of lemon juice to the milk. Do you notice anything happening? Keep adding drops until you see lots of clumping. If you are using spoons, add 1 spoonful of lemon juice and observe what happens (1 spoonful should be enough).
Pull a coffee filter or a piece of cheesecloth over an empty cup, then wrap a rubber band around the filter and the cup to keep the filter in place. Pour the milk/lemon mixture slowly through the filter into the cup.
Once most of the liquid has dripped into the cup below, remove the rubber band and carefully take the filter off of the top of the cup without spilling what’s on the filter. Very gently bunch the filter up and squeeze into the cup any liquid that is still inside the bunched-up filter, sort of like gently squeezing a sponge.
Open the filter back up and examine what is inside. What do you notice? Does it remind you of anything? Take a taste—what does it taste like?

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MAKE IT
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Let’s Talk About It
After every team has made some cheese, stop your students and bring them together to share their observations with each other. What did they notice? How did the cheese taste? This discussion should last no more than a few minutes.

 

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MAKE IT
Better
Build On What They Talked About
Have each team try making cheese with vinegar. Does it take more or less vinegar than it did lemon juice to make cheese? How does this cheese taste?

 

 

Suggestions
Explain that the liquid that filters through into the cup in the cheese activity is called whey. The cheese is also known as curds.
Try making cheese out of any other juices you can think of. More acidic juices will make the best cheeses.

 

Science and art…with eggs!

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal—and eggs! Many animals lay and incubate eggs in the spring, and in some cultures spring is a time in which kids paint, hide and eat lots of eggs. This makes it a great time to not only take a close look at eggs, but also to experiment with some of the things we can do with them. This activity is the first in the Incredible Egg series of activities, which are designed to be done during the Spring—start your students off with this and other “egg science” activities, then move on to egg art, and finally take the Egg Drop Challenge!

 

Suggested Materials
At least 10 dozen eggs (white eggs are preferred, brown are OK)
3–4 older eggs (see Preparation)
Ziploc bags (1 package, gallon size)
Food coloring or egg dye
Cardboard, thick construction paper, or pieces of wood (4” X 6” or 5” X 7”, 1 or 2 inches thick)
Thin markers
Several thick books

 

Preparation
The following preparation is for ALL of the Incredible Egg activities. This page gives instructions for the “How Strong is an Eggshell?” activity, but the preparation instructions here will get you ready for all Egg Science, Egg Art and Egg Drop Challenge activities as well. Get your eggs ready and try all of these activities as you explore science, engineering, art and math…all with the simple (but pretty incredible) little egg!

 

In the Incredible Egg activities, your students will investigate some of the physical properties of eggs, and will then make paintings and mosaics using different parts of store-bought eggs. The Incredible Egg series includes the following activities, found in this curriculum:

 

Egg Science Activities:

How Strong is an Eggshell? (this activity)
The Emperor’s New Egg
Raw or Hard-boiled?
Fresh or Old?

 

Egg Art Activities:

Egg Painting
Eggshell Mosaics
Egg Dyeing with Natural Dyes

 

Culminating Activity:

 

Egg Drop Challenge

 

The “Incredible Egg” activities use every part of the egg – the shells, whites (called “albumen”) and yolks. Use the instructions below to prepare each egg part for the activity series:

 

Preparing Eggshells – Your first step in preparing the materials is to prepare eggshell halves for the “How Strong Is An Eggshell” activity, described on this page. Crack an egg open, being careful to crack it in the middle, making 2 halves that are as close to the same size as possible. Separate the egg yolks and egg whites into different bowls or containers (See Figure 1 for an illustration). If you mess one up, that’s perfectly OK – you’ll need lots of crushed eggshells and the whites and the yolks for the Incredibe Egg – Egg Art activities (see above). If one doesn’t break quite right, separate the white and yolk and put the shell aside for “Eggshell Mosaics”, then crack another egg to try again.

Whites and Yolks – The Egg Art activities use the whites and yolks of the eggs to make homemade paint. There are two methods for separating whites from yolks, the less messy way, and the fast way:LESS MESSY METHOD: Lightly crack the egg on the edge of a bowl but don’t open it. Turn the egg upright, carefully open the shell into two halves (do this over the bowl), keeping the liquid part of the egg in the lower half. Pour the egg from one half of the broken shell into the other, letting the egg white fall into the bowl but keeping the yolk intact in the shell halves as you pour. Repeat until all the white has fallen into the bowl, leaving only the yolk in the shell. Pour the yolks into a separate bowl or container. Set aside the two eggshell halves and repeat this process until you have 20 good eggshell halves for the How Strong Is An Eggshell activity (described in these instructions). Look for eggshell halves with no cracks in them. Carefully rinse these shells with water and set them aside to dry. THE FAST METHOD: If you don’t mind getting a little messy, you can also separate eggs by cracking the shells open, pouring the white and yolk into your hand and letting the egg white ooze through your fingers into the bowl below, leaving the yolk in your hand. This is quicker, but messier. Make sure you wash your hands before and after! Store the whites and yolks in separate containers in the refrigerator.

Boiling an Egg – Next, hard boil 1 egg using these directions: place the egg in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover it by 1 inch. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a medium boil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the egg and place it in a bowl of cold water or ice water and let it cool completely. Place this egg in the refrigerator—remember which one it is—it will look just like the uncooked ones! You’ll use it for the Raw or Hard-boiled? activity.

Set 1 dozen eggs aside in the refrigerator.
Egg Art – The remaining eggs should be prepped for the Egg Art activities. The instructions for doing those activities can be found on the activity pages listed above. Separate the eggs as you did above, but don’t worry as much about making nice, neat eggshell halves. You’ll need to prep several dozen eggs (you need a lot of shells). As you did before, save the whites in 1 container and the yolks in another. Rinse off all of your eggshells and set them aside on paper towels to dry. When they are dry, place them in a Ziploc bag, squeeze the air out of the bag and zip it shut. Place a towel over the bag and carefully crush all of the eggshells until they are in little pieces around the size of split peas or grains of rice. It shouldn’t take too much time—shells crush pretty easily.

Once all of the shells are crushed, divide them into a few Ziploc bags. In 1 bag, drop a few drops of blue food coloring, seal the bag and shake it until the coloring has spread out evenly. Add a few more drops and repeat until the shells are a color you like. Repeat this process with the other bags of uncolored shells—make red, yellow, green, purple, etc. Leave 1 bag uncolored so you have white shells to work with. If you would prefer, you can color these crushed eggshells using egg dye instead—follow the instructions on the dye packet.

Finally, try to collect eggs of different ages for the Fresh or Old? activity. Try to find eggs that are 1–2 weeks old, 1–2 months old and older. Bring these in from home, or ask staff/students to see if they have older eggs in their refrigerators at home. Using permanent marker, label these eggs “egg A”, “egg B”, etc. so that you know which is which.

 

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MAKE IT
Matter
Opening Discussion
Ask your students if they’ve ever cooked or dyed eggs. Have they dropped an egg? What happened? Do they think that eggs are strong or fragile? How much weight do they think an eggshell can hold?

 

The Challenge
See how much weight eggshells can support!

 

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Doing the Activity
You should do this activity as a demonstration, with your students gathered around the table or floor.
Place the shells, broken side down, on a table or on the floor. Arrange them as if they were on a square, with each eggshell at a corner. Make this square a little smaller than the largest book you have, and tell your students that you are going to pile books on top of the eggshells until they break. Place the first book (gently!) on top of the shells. Did they hold the weight?

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MAKE IT
Click
Let’s Talk About It
Did the results surprise your students? What did they think would happen? Ask your kids to predict how many books the shells will hold before they break.

 

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MAKE IT
Better
Build On What They Talked About
Add more books until the eggshells crumble. If you have a scale, weigh these books to see how much weight the shells held. Try again with more eggshells if you’d like, and let some students place the books.

 

Ask students to think about what it is about the egg shells that make them strong. If not mentioned, point out the shape, and ask them if they can think of any other strong structures or objects that are that shape.

 

Suggestions
While eggshells are pretty fragile in the middle, they are quite strong from end to end. If you look at half of an eggshell you should see an arch shape—one of the strongest shapes around! The middle of the egg, where we usually crack it, can’t take advantage of that shape.

 

 

Have you ever wished for a sunny day?

Many cultures have traditions related to weather, weather prediction and even trying to influence the weather, making the topic of meteorology not only a great entry point to science, but also to the shared connection every culture has to weather events. This activity is a great introduction to Japanese culture and a fun way to connect science, culture, and art together.

 

Preparation

 

Gather all materials together and read the instructions below. Make a Teru Teru Bozu of your own to show your students as an example.

 

Suggested Materials

Thin, white square fabric pieces, or white tissue paper sheets (small square cuts of a bed sheet or table cloth are good choices)
Extra sheets of tissue paper, polyester stuffing, or cotton balls, etc. for stuffing the dolls
Markers
String and ribbons
A world map, globe or digital resource like Google Earth or Google Maps

 

MAKE ITMatter
Opening Discussion

 

Ask your students how they would feel if almost every day was a rainy day for more than an entire month. This is what the rainy season in Japan is like. Has anyone heard of Japan before? Where is it on Earth? Show the map, globe or digital version of the Earth to your students, and ask them to help you locate Japan. Share the distance, time difference, etc. between Japan and where you live.

 

The rainy season in Japan, called tsuyu (pronounced tsu-you), occurs when cold air from Siberia north of Japan, and warm air from the South Pacific south of Japan, collide and stay for a while. This usually happens between June and early July.  Ask your students what they think it would be like to go a whole month where it rains almost every day. Do you think that you would wish for sunny days to come back?

 

To try and stop the rain and bring out the sun, children in Japan traditionally make fine weather dolls called Teru Teru Bozu (pronounced tay-roo tay-roo boh-zoo). Teru means “shine” and bozu means “little boy”. These little dolls are considered good luck charms, and are hung on the eaves of roofs just outside windows to try and bring back sunny days. Ask your students if they would like to try and make their own Teru Teru Bozu.

 

The Challenge

 

Make your own Teru Teru Bozu!

 

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MAKE ITHappen

Doing the Activity

 

Show your example Teru Teru Bozu, or print or show them Figures 1 and 2 in Resources, above, and encourage students to make their own. The instructions are:

 

Crumble tissue paper or other stuffing material into a ball.
Wrap a few sheets of white cloth or tissue paper around the small ball you made in step 1, and make a neck by tightening around the ball (similar to a Halloween ghost).

Tie that tightened spot at the neck area with a piece of string.
Personalize your Teru Teru Bozu with markers by drawing a face on the head, and making any other colorful markings you would like all over the body. NOTE – if you are using tissue paper, be careful with the markers – ink tends to bleed more readily on tissue paper than on fabric.
Tell students that the folks tale in Japan is that if Teru Teru Bozu are hung upside down, it will bring more rainy (or snowy) days, and if they are hung sideways, it will bring cloudy days. Hanging the Teru Teru Bozu with the head pointing up signifies your wish for sunny days to come back.

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MAKE ITClick
Let’s Talk About It

Ask your students some questions such as: “Where will you hang your Teru Teru Bozu? Can you think of other things people do when they are wishing for the weather to change? Have you ever heard the rhyme, “Rain, rain go away, come again some other day? If people say that phrase, does it make the rain go away?”

 

Ask students if they think a doll like this really impacts the weather, or if it is more of a way to express that you are hoping for something, kind of like the “Rain, rain, go away” rhyme? What kinds of things really do impact whether it rains or not?”

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MAKE ITBetter
Build On What They Talked About

 

Choose together a place to hang the dolls (ideally near the window where Teru Teru Bozu can see the sky). After the Teru Teru Bozu are up, ask your students if they know of different parts of the world that experience a lot of rain or snow as well. Show them Figure 3, the precipitation map in Resources above, and ask if they notice anything similar about the places where it rains or snows a lot and the places where it rains or snows very little. This map is from NASA and GISS, and shows the average annual precipitation (rain and snow) in millimeters across the world from 1980-2010. You should notice areas that receive very little precipitation (the darkest blue areas), and areas that receive a lot of precipitation (the red, orange, and yellow areas).

 

Then, show your students the maps in Figures 4 and 5 in Resources above. Figure 4 shows precipitation amounts in the US during the month of December 2015 (from http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/screen_shot_2016-01-14_at_3.12.36_pm.png), and Figure 5 shows a single week’s precipitation in South America the last week of February 2016 (from http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/peru_imerg_23-29_february_2016.jpg).

 

Ask them if they can find places on the South America map where there were 20 inches or more in a week. These maps were created by a satellite launched by Japan and NASA together, called the Global Precipitation Measurement mission. Visit http://pmm.nasa.gov/ and  http://pmm.nasa.gov/education/ for more information.

 

So why does it rain a lot in some places, but not at all in others? Rain is essentially moisture falling from the air. So areas near the ocean, or other large bodies of water, are more likely to get rain because air can pick up some of that moisture as it moves around. You may also notice, on the map of South America (if you look closely), that there are mountains near the coast – areas like this, where the air moves across a large body of water and up a mountain, are also likely to get a lot of rain.  But interestingly, on the OTHER side of the mountain, you are likely to get little rain, because all of that rain falls as the air moves up the water-facing side of the mountain.

 

There are other factors that cause precipitation, or a lack of it. Encourage your students to do some research and share it with the rest of the class, so you can all learn about where our weather comes from…it is probably not from dolls or rhymes, though both of those are fun ways for us to express our weather wishes!

 

Suggestions
You can see a LIVE view of how much precipitation has fallen over Japan in the last 4 hours here: http://sharaku.eorc.jaxa.jp/GSMaP_NOW/index.htm
Visit http://pmm.nasa.gov/waterfalls/education for more activities on rainfall, including instructions for students to make and use a rain gauge to measure precipitation.
Here is a movie of a year’s rain and snowfall across the globe: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=11784
Here is a still image of the accumulated precipitation over the globe during a period of one week in August 2014: (The Dark Purple over Japan is Typhoon Halong): https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a004200/a004284/GPM_accumulation_1080p.00336_print.jpg

 

 

How far away is Pluto?

Our solar system is truly enormous. Developing a sense of just how enormous is difficult, however. A good starting point to this understanding is to have children explore the relative distances across our solar system, and this game provides a fun way to do that. This is also a great activity for learning about the major bodies in our solar system, and to practice measuring and estimating.

 

Preparation
You will need a room at least 40 feet long for this game, and ideally 9-10 children. This activity is scalable – you could do it outside at a distance of 40 meters or yards instead, or at any measurement, really – you’ll just need to recalculate the measurements included in these instructions.

 

Print the planet images or create the name cards for each planet mentioned under “Suggested Materials” (see list of planets under “Make it Matter”). Tape the image of the Sun (or the printed word “Sun”) on one wall of the room you are in. If you are outside, tape to any appropriate object, or even place on the ground. Place the photo of Pluto 40 feet away (or farther, if you are changing the scale), on the ground or taped to a wall. Create a 40’ measuring line on the floor with masking tape or string, and mark 1-foot lines along its length, starting at Pluto and ending at the Sun. This will make measurement during the activity much easier for you.

 

NOTE: For an indoor, and smaller-scale (though slightly more involved) version of this activity, try the Astro Map activity from this curriculum (click here).

 

Resources
Figure 1
Figure 1

Solar System Showcase
SHARE PRINT
Suggested Materials
Printed Solar System images from NASA Inspirations (click here) of the Sun, each of the major planets, and Pluto and Ceres (the two largest dwarf planets), or 11 sheets of paper, each with a name of the Sun or a planet, large enough for people to read across the room.
Measuring tape
Masking tape
Optional Materials
A sesame seed or grain of rice.

1
MAKE IT
Matter
Opening Discussion
Ask your students to name any planets in our solar system they can. Write down their list on chart paper or a dry erase board, and add anything they missed (use the list below for reference), including Ceres, the largest dwarf planet in the Asteroid Belt, and Pluto, also a dwarf planet:

Sun
Mercury
Venus
Earth
Mars
Ceres (the largest object in the Asteroid Belt)
Jupiter
Saturn
Uranus
Neptune
Pluto
Can they place these objects in order? Help them create a list in the correct order (above), and write this list down in a visible spot. How far apart do they think these objects might be? Show your students the NASA images of some of these objects included with this curriculum. You can print them out or show them the images on a computer. You can also visit NASA’s amazing solar system website, which is full of images, information and more: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets.

The Challenge
Play this game by predicting how far apart the major objects in our solar system are!

 

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MAKE IT
Happen
Doing the Activity
Point out the “Sun” and “Pluto” signs you put up, and tell your students that you have created a scale model of the solar system, but you need help filling in the rest of the planets. Tell the group that you’d like to play a game where they predict how far apart the planets in our solar system are.
For a sense of scale, pass around a sesame seed or grain of rice, and tell students that it represents the size of the Sun in the solar system model you have created. NOTE: A sesame seed is about 3mm wide; a grain of rice is slightly thicker than that. If you scale this activity up (to 40 yards, for instance) your sample object will have to change as well. See “Suggestions” for scaling ideas.
Ask the group to gather at Pluto.
Refer to your list of planets and dwarf planets, and ask your students which planet is next closest to the Sun, after Pluto (Neptune). Ask the group to walk toward the Sun, and for each child to stop walking and stand where they think Neptune would be located in this scale solar system model. Hand the student closest to 9’ from Pluto the Neptune sign, and ask them to stay there and be Neptune (if you have fewer than 9 students, you can simply place the planet signs at each stop and all continue on together).
Have the rest of the group walk and predict where the next planet, Uranus, would be (20’ from Pluto). Give the closest student the Uranus sign, and have them stay there.
Continue in this manner with the remaining planets. When you reach Ceres…things start to get a little tight! You’ll need to break out the measuring tape to start measuring inches, and you’ll likely have to just choose a student for each planet, as your students will all be in around the same area.
Here are the planet distances in two measurements – the first column is how many feet and inches apart the planets are in our 40-foot solar system. Please note these are approximate distances – a good deal of rounding up or down has occurred, for the sake of simplicity. The second column is how far each planet actually is from the Sun in Astronomical Units (AU) – one AU is the average distance between the Earth and Sun (about 150 million kilometers, or 93 million miles):
Object Distance from Pluto in the 40’ Scale Model Actual Distance from Sun
(in Astronomical Units, or AU)
Pluto 0′ 39.4
Neptune 9′ 30.1
Uranus 20′ 19.2
Saturn 30′ 9,54
Jupiter 34′ 5.20
Ceres 37′ 3″ 2.77
Mars 38′ 5″ 1.52
Earth 39′ 1.0
Venus 39′ 3″ .72
Mercury 39′ 7″ .39
Sun 40′ 0
And see Figure 1 in Resources, above, for an overhead view of the distances.

 

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MAKE IT
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Let’s Talk About It
Ask your students if they were surprised by the results. It is worth reinforcing the vast distances between objects in our solar system – while it may look like they are close together, based on this activity, our solar system is a truly enormous place. Ask your students how long they think it might take to drive in a car, at 60 miles per hour, from Earth to Mars (using the average distance between the two). Write everyone’s guesses down on a piece of chart paper, dry erase board, etc. Did anyone come close? Reveal the answer: Traveling from Earth to Mars at 60 mph would take 92 years (it’s 48,500,000 miles)!

Keep in mind this is non-stop travel. No bathroom breaks! Ask students to share the longest road trips they have ever taken. Can they imagine extending those trips to 92 years, or even almost 6 months? How long do they think it would take to travel in a car (or spaceship), at 60 mph, to the other major pit stops in our solar system? You can figure this out by dividing the distance between Earth and any object by 525,600 (the number of minutes in a year, since 60 mph = 1 mile per minute). If you are working with older children, you can give them this challenge – either share with them the average mileage listed below, or even have them research those distances on line. Then, have them calculate travel time by dividing the distance by 525,600. With younger children, you can have them guess travel times (now that they have some context with the three times above). Here are some distances from Earth (rounded) and 60 mph travel times:

Earth to The Sun – 93,000,000 miles (177 years)
Earth to Mercury – 57,000,000 miles (108.5 years)
Earth to Venus – 26,000,000 miles (49.5 years)
Earth to The Moon – 239,000 miles (5.5 months)
Earth to the Asteroid Belt – 111,500,000 miles (212 years)
Earth to Jupiter – 390,000,000 miles (742 years)
Earth to Saturn – 792,000,000 miles (1,507 years)
Earth to Uranus – 1,692,500,000 miles (3,220 years)
Earth to Neptune – 2,704,000,000 miles (5,145 years)
Earth to Pluto – 3,637,000,000 miles (6,920 years)
What do they think is in all that space between the planets/other objects (hint – we call it “space” for a reason…)? There is not a lot out there in space. The majority of the universe is wide-open and empty.

 

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MAKE IT
Better
Build On What They Talked About
If you’d like to continue on past our solar system, you can ask your students to predict how far away, in the 40-foot model you created, the next closest star would be to our solar system (our closest star is, of course, the Sun). The closest star outside our solar system is called Proxima Centauri, and it is about 4.2 light years away – that’s almost 25 TRILLION miles. This is a distance that’s pretty much impossible to imagine. At 60 miles per hour, it would take over 47 million years to drive there. And in our 40-foot solar system model, Proxima Centauri would be 271,000 feet, or 51 miles away. Look on a map at how far 51 miles is from where you are.

Suggestions
This activity can be even more impressive if you can do it on a larger scale. If you are near a football field, for example, you could use the existing yard markers to help out. In this instance, start from the Sun instead of Pluto, and use the AU measurements above, calculating them as feet. Here are some measurements if you try this on different scales:
40-yard scale – the AU numbers in the chart above equal how many yards each object is from the Sun in a 40-yard model. You could also measure in feet by multiplying the AU numbers in the chart above by 3. For example, Mercury, your new first stop, would now be 1.17 feet (.39 yards) from the Sun, instead of around 5 inches, as it was in the 40-foot model. Pluto is 118 feet (39.4 yards) away from the Sun. Your example “Sun”, showing a sense of scale, should be something about 9mm in diameter, or a little less than 3/8 of an inch…about the size of an un-popped popcorn kernel.
100-yard scale – stick with yards, and multiply all AU numbers in the chart above by 2.5. For example, Mercury, your new first stop, would now be .975 yards from the Sun (you can round up to 1 yard), instead of around 5 inches, as it was in the 40-foot model. Pluto is 98.5 yards away from the Sun in this model. Your example “Sun”, showing a sense of scale, should be something about 23mm in diameter, or slightly less than one inch…about the size of a quarter.
For an indoor, and smaller-scale (and slightly more involved) version of this activity, try Astro Map from this curriculum (click here).
You could make similar relative distance maps of cities in the U.S., countries, streets in your town, etc.

Earth and Space science activities were developed with the support of NASA. This material is based upon work supported by NASA under grant award number NNX14AQ83G. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).