Friday, December 9, 2011

Hands-On with Mercury

**Note that tonight (actually early tomorrow morning for the U.S. anyway) the moon will experience a total lunar eclipse. Check out this site to see if you are able to see any of it.**

We finally wrapped up our chapter on Mercury from Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright. It really should have only taken a week to wrap up as it was pretty simple, but that is pretty much how school is going around here lately.

After reading the chapter and doing some lapbook work (using a coordinating lapbook for Skipper and the notebooking pages I made for Critter), it was time for some hands-on activities. First, the boys experienced how craters were made using a few simple items you have around the house: a plastic cereal bowl, corn meal (flour is ok - we just do not have it around here, only the more expensive gluten-free stuff), and rocks/marbles of varying sizes. All you need to do is drop a "meteorite" onto your "planet" and see the effect. Such a simple thing yet apparently very exciting for them.

The other hands-on activity the boys did was to create a "model" of Mercury. You could make it more difficult and use a salt dough recipe to make a model you can keep, but honestly, I wanted simple and easy - and I did not mind having planets we smooshed back up to make another day. We have enough clutter as it is!

Our favorite "dough" to use is Crayola air-dry clay (play-doh would be perfect too, but we keep it out of the house due to gluten). I let the boys pick a color. Mercury is pretty boring color-wise so we used our imaginations. Once they rolled their clay into a ball, in came the meteorites (in the form of pencil ends, marker ends, pen ends, rocks/marbles) to form craters all around the planet. This was fun for me to watch. Critter really enjoyed putting on a show, with sound effects and all. I lost my chance to take a picture of his planet before so many meteorites hit it that it became flat as a pancake (this phrase cracked him up). His planet is most definitely uninhabitable!


  1. Oh how cool! I used to love doing planet stuff when I was a teacher. :o)

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  2. Thanks for stopping by Jamie! The kids LOVE astronomy. It really does appeal to all age groups. It's been fun seeing how interested their grandpas and dad have become (despite distance). :)

  3. This is so cool! I've done something similar with a map of the united states for 11-13 year olds. I never thought about planets!

  4. What a neat idea for the map, Kayla! That would be a nice way to end my son's year of U.S. states study.

  5. What a fun, hands on activity! We did a space unit earlier this year & had a BLAST =-) f


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