The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 6

Notes and Lesson Plans

Astronomy
updated February 16, 2017


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Astronomy
for Class 6



Pinterest - Renee Schwartz
My curated collection of visuals! Browse sample main lesson book pages, watercolor paintings, chalkboard drawings, etc. for Astronomy.


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We used the main lesson resource by Charles Kovacs and supplemented it as indicated below.


Geology and Astronomy

by Charles Kovacs


Recorded here is my own personal collection of articles, resources, favorite links, teaching ideas, and lesson plans. It encompasses many years, from the very beginning of my experience studying and learning about Waldorf to the present time. People from all around the world visit my site and recommend it to others. Welcome!

This site records my journey. I hope my honesty is encouraging and helps break down some barriers that may prevent people from trying Waldorf methods. Because this is an ongoing site documenting my curriculum planning and ideas, some materials are more Waldorf-y than others. Please feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.

I am currently teaching this main lesson block, in January-February 2017.

Note #1
I ended up adding an extra week to this block so that we could take our time and focus on really understanding some of the scientific concepts, especially correctly picturing the spatial relationship between different heavenly bodies. It's nice to teach by way of stories but it isn't always the easiest for grasping such abstract concepts.

Note #2
I've discovered that this block is best taught in the Spring or Summer, after preliminary concepts have been covered in Physics and Geology and Geometry and Business Math, and the warm weather is also the nicest for nighttime sky gazing.


List of Stories

Chapters 15 - 17, Kovacs
The Heart and the Sun
The Sun's Daily Movement
The Sun During the Year

    have a globe ready for chapter 16

    poem to accompany / memorize for start of Astronomy block: "Migration" from Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky by Georgia Heard

    possible read alouds: The Eskimo Twins or Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

    from World According to Biomes Masters PDF (free download)

      print length of the rays of the sun sheet (COLOR sun, earth, atmosphere; MEASURE length of the rays of the sun; ANSWER why it is colder at the poles)

      follow with Waseca Biomes of the World Mat ($75.00) student hands-on exploration using accompanying cards - have globe handy to refer to political maps

      find Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Equator on biome mat and on globe - find Arctic Circle and Antarctic Circle on globe

      print climate zones sheet (COLOR polar, temperate, tropical zones; LABEL using the vocabulary in the word boxes)

    it helps if each student physically holds out his/her arms as if pointing to sunrise location and sunset location and brings them closer together gradually, as if the days were growing shorter, and then spreads them apart gradually, as if the days were getting longer, while ALSO tipping chin incrementally up and down as necessary


Chapter 18, Kovacs
The Calendar

    The Story of Clocks and Calendars by Betsy Maestro is a good additional resource

    finger knit four pieces, each one yard long, of Paton's Classic Wool Roving Yarn

    tie them together to make a solar calendar and lay the circle on the classroom floor
    1 cm = 1 day
    one yard = one season
    365 cm = 12 feet = four yards = one year

    create a yellow tag (solar calendar) which reads "First Day of Spring" and place it on the start of your Spring color

    OR choose a flowered button and sew it on the start of Spring

    create a series of blue tags (lunar calendar) which read "First Day of Spring" and show how each time the calendar is calculated with too few days it gradually cumulatively gets "out of whack" and says it should be the first day of Spring when clearly it is the middle of Winter!

    OR use a series of small white buttons and place each one around the outside of the circle, as you discuss how the lunar calendar does not match

    make one for classroom demonstration or let each student make his/her own or have students work in groups to create their calendar

    it is really helpful if children work in partners and one sits as the Sun and one stands in front of the Sun and slowly spins, facing the Sun for day and facing away for night. see how it looks as though the Sun is rising and setting when really it is the Earth which is spinning

    now, spin for day and night while ALSO slowly walking around the finger knitted yarn circle on the floor, saying the name of each season aloud as you enter into it

    example of a chalkboard drawing for how the tilt of the earth causes the seasons

    MLB illustrations for seasons: divide page into four quadrants and draw a tree in each quadrant, color as appropriate for each season
    OR consider this beautiful 'Tree for All Seasons' art idea


Chapter 19, Kovacs
Sundials and Time


Chapter 20, Kovacs
The Circling Stars and the Pole Star


Chapters 21 - 22, Kovacs
The Curvature of the Earth
Longitude and Latitude

    for chapter 21, have ready two balls: a small one like a ping pong ball and a large one like a yoga ball

    our yoga ball is large and blue and has lines running along it that are perfect for latitude/longitude (chapter 22) - especially for understanding why giving just one of the measurements isn't enough information

    it really helps if you've done coordinate graphing before this (Business Math block) and String, Straight-Edge & Shadow (Geometry block where sextant and octant are introduced)

    in advance, look up the GPS coordinates for where your home/school is located


Lewis and Clark

    this was a fun day!

    read Bad River Boys: A Meeting of the Lakota Sioux with Lewis and Clark to the class before introducing Lewis & Clark activities

    These include online activities which I don't usually do... but we enjoyed as a special treat. I've listed them in chronological order as we used them.

    start with this very helpful background teacher information to print, including selections from the journals of Lewis and Clark and a large number of maps (PDF)
    courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

    and print this teacher guide including student activities (and answer keys) (PDF) as well as links to additional resources, but be aware that their recommended links don't always work
    courtesy of Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum Distance Education

    We used the Columbia Gorge PDF above to guide our activities but they didn't number the pages of it, which makes sharing my notes difficult. I highly recommend printing it all and then numbering the pages (there are 20) before you begin!

    • pp.1 - 2
      teacher guide
      present, discuss, review movement of sun from chapter one of Kovacs, tip chin up and down incrementally
    • read President Jefferson's Instructions to Meriwether Lewis (pp.14-16 of Huntington Library PDF) and Selections from the Journals of Lewis and Clark (pp.17-19 of Huntington Library PDF)
    • "Take Careful Observations" and "Check Your Understanding"
      complete activity online at Columbia Gorge website

      we are using the 6 concluding 'Questions for Practice and Analysis' tomorrow to help guide the MLB summary - and the map on page 30 of the Huntington Library PDF as the illustration

      ('additional activity' links on website below these questions do not work! - use my notes below)

    • pp.18 - 20 "The Long and Short of Longitude" activity
      go straight to PBS Nova's website for the "Find Your Longitude" activity, then answer questions for #2 on page 18, answer key is also in the PDF, pp.19-20

      Discovering Lewis & Clark: Careful Observations site accompanies question #3 on page 18, tiny errors when winding and resetting the chronometer add up... make analogy to the line of little white buttons outside the solar calendar finger knitted circle and how a small error can continue to compound

    • pp.9 - 10
      "Using Latitude and Longitude to Map the Lewis and Clark Trail" activity
      we used a laminated map of the U.S. and a dry erase marker

      "Oh, that makes sense because it lands right on Sioux Falls," he comments,
      thinking back to the book Bad River Boys

    • p.11
      end with kinesthetic "Simon Says" globe aerobics activity on page 11
    more teaching notes from the Columbia Gorge Discover Center and Museum Distance Education:

      they also have a Classroom Navigation Kit which you can borrow, which includes a working sextant, an artificial horizon, a nautical compass, and directions

      they also suggest learning how to use a handheld GPS unit
      or visiting a car dealer to show how the GPS unit installed in a new car works

    example of a Sacagawea chalkboard drawing


Chapters 24 - 26, Kovacs
The Stars and Sirius
The Daily Movement of Stars and Sun
The Zodiac and Precession of the Equinox


Chapters 27 - 28, Kovacs
The Cosmic or Platonic Year
The Seven Classical Planets


Chapters 29 - 30, Kovacs
The Moon
Tides and Other Lunar Influences

    why there are craters on the moon - fun and easy demonstration

    here is an example of a phases of the moon chalkboard drawing

    best explanation I've found for how the phases of the moon work

    phases of the moon activities:

      paint eight foam craft balls 1/2 black and 1/2 white like this basketball
      paint a larger foam craft ball in blues and greens to be the earth
      allow them to dry (paint them in the morning)

      arrange the group of balls to match the phases of the moon diagram and explain the diagram

      the phases of the moon happen because of the amount of sunlight reflected by the moon, which is altered by the movement of the moon around the earth, but the light of the sun and the shadow of the sun falls in the same way every time - clarify the sun's shadow - "it's like there's a lamp on this side of the earth but on the other side of the earth there's no lamp"

      photocopy Kovacs diagram on p.108 and have students use a straight edge and draw a line, then color in the dark side of the moon (which he doesn't show... he only shows the sun's shadow) to further clarify how much reflected sunlight is showing at each phase

      THEN make the phases of the moon (what we see from Earth) with Oreos, keeping the black intact and just removing cream each time (the moon is always there... it's just the amount of reflected sunlight that changes) and then happily eat them!

      then add a two page spread to MLB with lunar and solar eclipses on the left and the phases of the moon on the right, arranging all of the celestial bodies in the same orientation each time (sun at the top of the page, earth in the middle, moon moving around the earth)

      further clarify things by marking on your lunar eclipse diagram that it happens at the FULL moon and marking on your solar eclipse diagram that it happens at the NEW moon

    on February 10, 2017, when we started this chapter, there was a penumbral lunar eclipse so we watched that - great connection!


Chapter 34, Kovacs
Ptolemy


Remaining chapters are biographies from a FREE book available online at The Baldwin Project (www.mainlesson.com) called Stories of the Great Scientists by Charles R. Gibson.


Chapter 5, Gibson
Copernicus and His Famous Theory (1473-1543): Nocolas Copernik - Better Known to Us as Copernicus


Chapter 6, Gibson
Tycho Brahe (1546-1601): Astrologer, Alchemist, and Medical Quack, But a Most Distinguished Astronomer


Chapter 7, Gibson
Johann Kepler (1571-1630): From Pot-Boy in a Tavern to Imperial Mathematician and Astronomer


Chapters 8-9, Gibson
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642): The Man Who Made Us Believe that the Earth Goes Round the Sun
Galileo Before the Dreaded Inquisition


Chapter 10, Gibson & Chapter 39, Kovacs
A Glimpse of Galileo's Private Life
Through the Telescope

    sample chalkboard drawing for a quote from Galileo

    finish adding astronomer biographies to MLB

    present heavenly body reports


More Favorite Books & Resources:


My blog posts from teaching this topic:



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