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Back when I wrote my post “Astronomy ideas for kids” I bemoaned the lack of ideas for Mercury, and the complete and total lack of Mercury lessons or activities.
Well, now I know why. Scientists, astronomers who study it for their life’s work, don’t know all that much about Mercury, how on earth can we Moms or elementary teachers then teach and come up with creative activities or Mercury lessons.
Enter what we do know about Mercury:
Mercury is very small and very close to the sun.
Because of #1 we can only see Mercury at sunrise or sunset, any other time it looks like one of many sunspots. Actually many sunspots are bigger than Mercury.
Mercury is a terrestrial planet, with many craters.
Mercury revolves around the sun faster than it rotates.
Bouncing off of fact 3 for our activity, we explored craters, and how a planet or moon gets them.
Supplies: pan of flour, small objects to drop, broom to sweep up the mess you got.
Pour about 10 cups of flour on the bottom of your pan. I completely made that number up, so obviously the amount is not important. What is important is having a few inches of flour in your pan.
Smooth out your flour so it is more or less flat. In theory Mercury started out mostly smooth after creation.
Start dropping small objects into your flour and seeing how the flour is changed by what you drop in it.
After you’ve taken out the various buttons and small objects you threw in check out the surface of your Mercury. You’ll notice it’s no longer smooth, and in some cases you can guess which object causes which problem. The kids had a lot of fun with this.
After you’ve gotten all the learning you want from your kids, and they’ve observed what happens when you drop the items and the resultant craters, turn the kids loose to play in the backyard with the flour.
This of course means about 1 hour later your kids will come back inside covered in water, flour, and mud. Don’t ask what happened, just send the kids back to wash up.
Trust me, you will be less stressed out if you do this.
Now on to some more recent activities totally unrelated to our Mercury lesson
I printed out our Illuminations (affiliate link) schedule for the week and realized we were very behind in our CKE earth and space (affiliate link). I kept putting them off because I didn’t have the right supplies.
Well, we finally completed the hands on part of Unit 2 on Friday of last week and attempted to build earthquake proof buildings.
We failed miserable, in case you’re wondering. And I still didn’t have quite the right materials. So, we took the test. Everyone failed. Complete and utter failure on their part.
So, I’m changing up how we do CKE Earth and Space. This was not a lack in the materials, this was clearly a lack in the teaching. So I went through and now am reteaching the materials. This time, I’m requiring they write notes. Previously I’d said they could listen. I’m going through and teaching them step by step how to take notes (watch for a post on this post is written, see above write notes link). And building in a lot more of what they recommend you do to learn the materials because I was playing fast and loose with the curriculum and that came back to get me.
But both of these topics are probably fodder for a whole separate post…..