Monday, February 4, 2013


Here is a sneak peek at some of the constellation work my Mom and I put together for the boys. I have a bunch of resources and activities that we'll be using.  At the end of the week I'll assemble them all into one cohesive post.  In the meantime, I couldn't wait to put this one up because they loved it SO MUCH.

We combined these basic constellations cards from the Karen Tyler Astronomy album with a packet of cardstock stars that my Mom whipped out on her Cricut Machine and a large piece of black felt rescued from the basement scrap bin.

It didn't take long for Kal-El to run out of constellations.  I made a bigger set of constellation cards for him from the free printable at Montessori for Everyone.  However, those are a bit too advanced.  They are like actual photographs of the night sky.  We are reading Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey.  This is a simplified version of The Stars by the same author.  I love them both, but The Stars is a bit too much information for us this week.   Find the Constellations is a nice start as long as you are in the middle or nothern U.S. (about lat. 40*).  I wish I had these books when I was a kid.  I used to be interested in constellations but was frustrated with both the allegorical and geometrical drawings.  This book pioneered a new, graphic way to draw the constellations and it is SO MUCH EASIER.

As soon as he made the Big Dipper with the Karen Tyler cards Kal-El wanted to turn it into the larger constellation, The Bear, as illustrated in the H.A. Rey book.  Immediately we realized we needed a larger piece of felt.  That situation has already been remedied for tomorrow.  While we were out buying felt, we also picked up some tracing paper.  The boys used up all of the tracing paper we had today.  The H.A. Rey books suggested covering the star pictures in the book with tracing paper and copying them so that you can than practice connecting the dots on your own.   This is a good intermediate step if you have trouble "seeing" the lines when you look just at the stars.  The boys can imagine the lines well in the simpler constellations but work with the tracing paper for the larger ones. I'll try to get some pictures of that activity later this week.

We put Kal-El's work plan "on paper" for the first time this week.  I'll show you what we did a little later in the week.  Until now Kal-El's work plan has been mostly a loose verbal contract.  We may go back to that (it worked well).  However, our new scheme got him thinking about the "big picture" a little more and got him moving again on a lot of recently neglected "threads" (grammar, fractions, story problems to name a few).  I took a lot of pictures today, but I'll tell you about it slowly instead of cramming it all in to one megapost.  

Happy learning!


  1. I love this! And just in time for our space/solar system study this week. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This work is a perfect example of why I love your blog so much! Great idea!!

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. What a great idea! I can't wait until we get to astronomy. I have been looking for a science curriculum for astronomy for the fall and totally forgot we have the Karen Tyler album. Thanks for that reminder. (I personally love your long megaposts:) btw.)

  4. Thanks for sharing. You might be interested in a book we have been using: Sir Patrick Moore's Legends of the Stars which gives the stories of the gods and heroes in the names of the constellations. We have looked at one constellation at a time - the story, the pattern and then go look for it in the night sky (great if you can get away from street lighting and bear the cold at this time of year!)
    Best wishes

  5. I love the constellations work. So nice!
    One thing we have our students do with word problems is to add the word or words that tell us about the sum.
    Like 5 flowers
    or 10 frogs

    This gets progressively difficult. For example: when there is added information that is not used to solve the problem.

  6. Jae, DM, tGwPT...I'm blushing :)

    tGwPT...I'm glad SOMEONE doesn't mind the megaposts!

    Anon...Thanks for the tip!

    Gigi...Love the idea! I'll have to make a new book for that... ;) Do you have a source for story problems or do you all use your imagination? (I loathe using my imagination for that type of thing.)

  7. MBT - I've pulled a LOT of our story problems from old workbooks ;) And lately, it's more of me presenting a real-life example of whatever math work is at hand. Why would we need to divide a fraction by a fraction for example - when would that make sense. So I show the presentation at hand, then toss in a real-life example; then go find some story problems online ;) Then I have him develop one that makes sense. Otherwise, I can't keep up ;)

    Oh, and it still drives him crazy that I make him say the unit of measure, even if it's the only thing we've talked about for a half an hour. It is still 3 apples or 10 feet or whatever. That habit of labeling your units can't be under-estimated when it comes to clarity of speech AND for use in later mathematics (better to develop the good habit now ;) ).

  8. I asked the teacher's in the class. They got the story problems from their trainer. I'm going to see if she has them online.

  9. Gigi,

    A question about the story problems...

    In the story problems shown in the post we were filling in a missing addend rather than giving a sum. Do you have them qualify the addend with a word or do you just have them do it when they are finding a sum? If you do make them qualify the addend, where do you put it?

  10. Just ordered the H.A. Rey book, looks amazing!! I ordered your motorized planets, too. My kids are going to love it! Thanks for the recommendations!