Sunday, April 7, 2019

Space Inquiry in Kindergarten: L’espace en maternelle

One of my favourite inquiries in maternelle so far has been our latest endeavour- learning about space! It seems that every time we ask the students what they are interested in, they mention space, the moon, astronauts, and Star Wars! So we jumped right in to all things space!

Dramatic play turned into a space shuttle and we worked with the students to co-create the space scene. 
My favourite dramatic play centers are those that we co-create with our students. While I love the beautiful *Pinterest Perfect* dramatic play areas as much as the next person, I totally believe in the fact that the children will be more engaged and invested in their play if they help create the materials they use and the area where they play.

We found lots of space-themed books at our school library, a lab coat and tubing from a hardware store to act as our space suits. Not pictured is the huge box we brought in and turned into a space shuttle together!

At our discovery center, we learned about the phases of the moon. We used this 'Les phases de la lune' playdough mat from my L'espace: Literacy and Science Activities for Kindergarten unit. After reading a book about the phases of the moon, we used playdough and a circular cookie cutter to create the various moon phases. 

This resource isn't part of my space unit but was tons of fun. One of our ECEs found cute, star-shaped beads at Michael's and used black pipe cleaners to create different constellations.

This idea was pretty basic but the kids loved it! Our kinders coloured the planets and cut them out. They then glued them on black construction paper and made Solar System Crowns! This idea is all over Pinterest in English but you can find it in French in my space unit.

I always like to set up our discovery center with a variety of books, vocabulary terms, and items to provoke deeper inquiry into our current area of interest.

A popular center during this inquiry was the sensory table. (Side note: I created this sensory table but using a jigsaw to cut out a hole in the top of a small, kids' IKEA table and inserted a large, clear plastic bin. I'm super happy with it and would eventually like to get a second table to go beside it for when our sensory play gets bigger than the space available. Read: all the time.)  This sensory play experience was created by one of our ECEs, who filled it with dry black beans and a variety of space-themed objects, such as stars, rockets, planets, etc. We also added the upper and lower case letter rocket ship puzzles from my space unit. The table that I currently have directly next to our sensory bin is a great place for the kids to be able to take the letter puzzles out and put them together.

Another popular center was our small world play / loose parts area. This area changes depending on what we are learning about and this week we put down a black felt board as a base and left out baskets of planets, words for labelling, story rocks (flat, black rocks that I painted with white circles and then coloured with Sharpies to look like the planets of our solar system), astronauts, and small stars. The students played with this area in many different ways and we were able to scaffold and extend their play throughout the week.

In all, this was an awesome inquiry and one that we extended and delved deeper into for several weeks. Unlike some inquiries we have explored, it was relatively easy to find materials in French, however, it is often difficult to find books and materials that are developmentally appropriate  for our French Immersion kiddos. I created my space unit in order to have a starting point and some fun centers that would be just at the right level. If you like to purchase the unit, click on the link below:

I hope I was able to spark some ideas for you if you are about to begin a space inquiry with your little ones soon.

xo Jess

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