Astronomy and Mythology for Elementary Students
Have you ever had the privilege of teaching or knowing a student in elementary school who just couldn't wrap their mind around wanting to learn the information their teachers are trying to impart? One way to get around this issue is to create integrated learning units that include several different types and methods of teaching. This article will describe one such unit that combines science and reading lessons in a way meant to draw students into the knowledge of their own accord.
Students seem to like learning more if given the opportunity to experiment and learn according to their own interests. In my fourth grade class, I have noticed that every student enjoys hearing stories that seem goofy to them. For example, why would anyone want to give birth to the land forms we see on Earth? The answer can be found in Greek mythology, with the stories of Gaea, the Earth Mother, who (incidentally) was married to Uranus, the lord of the skies.
In order to integrate this mythology aspect into the astrology unit, students can be provided with copies of the stories and asked to do one of several things with them. First off, students could just be asked to read the stories in conjunction with the lessons. This might work with self-driven students who are eager to learn. However, the normal' elementary school student probably will not take it upon themselves to complete that particular area of the unit without considerable pressure placed on them. A second possibility is to assign groups of students each story and have them research the history of the story, as well as the reason a planet is named after the characters, and then present their findings to the class. This works well if you make sure to monitor the students so that each one is pulling their weight in the group. Finally, students can be assigned parts and act out the characterizations within the myths, which fulfills art and humanity objectives along with reading and astronomy.
Along with the integration of myths into the Astrology lessons, having students research and present their knowledge of certain planets in artistic ways, such as graphic organizers, art projects, and, if they wish, the old stand by of a 3D solar system, with information placed on note cards beside the project. The use of myths can also be used when studying constellations.
When taking your study of Astrology to the investigation of stars and constellations, the use of myths can be expanded Greek and Roman myths to those of area Native American tribes, whose explanations for the Earth and her many interesting factors (such as constellations) are creative and interesting for students to learn. There is also the possibility with this option that there might be a relic of those area tribes living in the area. If this is the case, you can have members of the tribe come to class and tell those tribal stories to the students. This is a great time to discuss the advancement in scientific knowledge that allows people today to understand what makes up constellation and planets, as opposed to the limited amount of knowledge the first peoples had to create an understanding of our universe.