" A vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying man's achievements... a step into the future with predictions of constructive things to come. Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure, and ideals: the Atomic Age, the challenge of outer space, and the hope for a peaceful and unified world."
Tomorrowland captures the cosmic world of our vision of the future. It allows us to meander through what Walt Disney called "the living blueprint" of the future. And it's true. We can whirl on the Astro Blasters, rocket through the stars on Space Mountain, entangle ourselves in the Star Wars universe on the updated Star Tours: The Adventure Continues ride, and peek at the fascinating new developments in Innoventions.
Tomorrowland offers the opportunity to learn about the great big universe with the freedom to question how, why, and how can we get there?
Our first destination in the far reaches of space was our cold, dry and solitary moon.
Literature: Imagining a trip to the moon
We read Dan Yaccarino's imaginative picture book, Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I'm Off to the Moon! in which a young boy dons a space suit, straps himself into a rocket and blasts off to the moon. This book, which is an enjoyable read-aloud for little ones or an independent read for early readers, captures the whimsical fantasy of flying to the moon, complete with the mounting excitement of a countdown to blast off and the thrill of exploring the surface of the moon with a lunar rover.
We also read Martha Alexander's You're a Genius, Blackboard Bear, a cute picture book about a boy who, upon hearing a story about the moon, gets ready to travel there with his blackboard bear, a chalkboard drawing of a bear who comes to life and interacts with the boy. Among many things, this heartwarming book helps young learners understand how space travelers must prepare for such a journey.
- Make a space suit
- Make a suitcase from construction paper and use cut-outs/stickers of items to pack for the trip
- Talk about how a trip to the moon would be (how long do you think it would take to get there? Would you miss your family? What would you see outside the window of your rocket ship? What would bring back from the moon? Would you like to live there?)
- Make your own instrument panel for a space rocket. What kinds of buttons and levers would you need?
We read from Childcraft's A Look into Space to learn how the moon began. We learned about the four theories of how the moon might have been formed:
- Fission- as a chunk of Earth that separated from it.
- Coaccretion- a gathering of dust and gas to form a moon
- Orbital capture- Earth's gravity capturing a traveling moon
- Giant impact/collision- an object colliding with Earth and the subsequent material forming a moon.
We also read "The Man in the Moon Tells His Story" from Childcraft's A Look into Space. This engaging story is told from the man in the moon's perspective as he explains the basic composition of the moon, from the maria caused by lava from long ago to craters formed by colliding meteoroids. We also learned that the moon has no atmosphere, wind or rain so imprints made in its dust can stay for many, many years. We read about the moon's phases and how it looks full and bright sometimes, like a crescent other times, and how sometimes we cannot see it at all.
When we read about the moon's gravity causing the water on Earth to bulge, Aidyn gasped and said, "The moon makes the waves!"
Ideas for a Hands-On Moon Study:
- Paint your own moon on a sheet of black construction paper. Use gray paint (or a combination of white and black) with a tablespoon of flour mixed in for that "wet snow" consistency. Once it's painted, use a bottle cap to create craters. You can apply a little black paint to the craters to create maria.
- Make a moon out of play-dough. Mix 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 3/8 of a cup of salt, and 3/8 of a cup of hot water in a bowl. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for at least 5 minutes. Ball up your dough into a moon shape and create craters with bottle caps.
- Once you make some Moon Dough, spread a layer into a round cake pan and drop "meteoroids" onto it from different heights. We used medium-sized rocks, but you might want to use marbles, tennis balls, golf balls, etc. Doing so helps us understand how craters on the moon are made.
- Chart the phase of the moon yourself. We're using a moon chart from Enchanted Learning.
... and what it would be like to live there.
Literature: Chapter book read-aloud about space
We read the goofiest book about a wacky space pirate entitled Ned Feldman, Space Pirate by Daniel Pinkwater. This illustrated chapter book follows nine-year-old Ned who discovers a space craft in his kitchen. A two-foot tall sort-of-human space pirate named Captain Bugbeard takes Ned on a trip around the universe.
While this story does little in the way of teaching contextual facts about space (unless there really ARE gigantic space chickens on alien planets), it is wildly imaginative, fun, and so enjoyable that it can be finished in one sitting (if your voice holds up).
Phonics and Reading Instruction: -oo- words and space words
- While learning about the moon, practice your -oo- words. Teach your child that many -oo- words sound impressed ("Oooooo!"). Make word strips of the following words:
moon soon spoon zoom moo boot loot doom raccoon cartoon
boom loom room root toot boo coop loop
- Learn space vocabulary. We are using Read, Build, Write! Mats from Homeschool Creations. She also has Star Wars vocabulary available. Instead of printing several mats, I printed one and put it in a transparent sheet protector. We build words using phonics tiles and write with dry-erase markers.
We've just begun learning our way through Tomorrowland. There is still so much more to cover!