Sunday, June 3, 2018

A Kindergarten Sky Inquiry

In the last couple weeks of school, we decided to do an inquiry about the sky.  Our Driving Questions were, "What do we see in the daytime sky? What do we see in the nighttime sky?" The sun, moon and stars are in Ohio's science standards, but the students always end up being fascinated. The things they said they see were the pretty colors of the sky, clouds, rainbows, the sun, stars and moon. After we listed these, they started telling me things they noticed that happens in the sky, and then the wonders started.  I love how much more complex their wonders get as the year goes on!  "Is the earth still, or is it moving?" "Where does the sun go at night?" "Does the sun move around the earth like  the moon does?" "If the sun is a star, why is it so much bigger than the other stars?" "How do the sun and moon move?"

I started out with rainbows and sky colors. I found that most of them already knew the order of the colors and how rainbows are made.  They loved creating rainbows though so I set out an area for them to create with art materials and prisms with flashlights.

They were fascinated with the colors that the sky can be so we read "Sky Colors" and I set out opportunities for the kids to create their own "sky colors."

They turned out beautiful!!

We read many books about clouds, both informational and fictional.  They learned that there are three main kinds of clouds.  They showed their learning by creating a mural of the daytime sky. Here are some working on the different kinds of clouds.

Next we learned about the sun.  Here they are making the sun for our mural.

We had noticed that you could also see the moon in the daytime sky but it was lighter. We made a moon out of vellum paper and added it to our mural along with facts that we had learned. Here is the finished Daytime Sky Mural!

They were amazed that the sun was not moving around the earth, but that the earth was spinning instead.  As we were exploring this concept further, they started wondering about the earth.  "Is the earth in the sky, because, you know, it is in space and space is the sky?" How does the earth spin but we don't feel like we are moving?"  "What is inside the earth?" We took a little break from what we saw in the sky to address these wonders.  They created spin art of the earth and wrote one fact they thought was interesting that they had learned about the earth. We also made diagrams showing the inside of the earth.

Next we started learning about the moon and the stars.  I set out some invitations for them to research, explore, and show what they notice.

I put out a picture of Van Gogh's Starry Night for inspiration at the easel.

 They started on our night sky mural.  We started with the stars.  Some created their own constellations! They made them all white, but then later added other colors as they found out that stars can be red, blue, yellow and brown.

We added the phases of the moon:

Here is a picture of our night sky!

I wish that we had more time for this inquiry!  They discovered galaxies and wanted to explore those further.  This happens at the end of every year!  They get so excited about exploring and inquiring as they are introduced to new and unfamiliar things because they are in that mindset!  Everything they see, they want to learn more about! Seeing them like this at the end of the year, I would love to see them in an inquiry based classroom with this mindset in first grade! I think their excitement for learning and things they would want to explore would almost be hard to keep up with!  If they did inquiry and interest based learning in first grade (or any grade!), the learning would be unstoppable and amazing!!

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