Preparing decor, costumes and kids for a dance production

CPDS dance prep_planets_2 CPDS dance prep_planets_3

CPDS dance prep_planets_1 CPDS dance prep_planets_4

We extended our study of outer space into the performing arts curriculum, and all the Year 5 classes created dances around a space theme.  Room 27 choreographed a sequence that showed stars floating in space, coming together, and exploding. In the build up to our performance, we got creative with the decor and costumes.

A galaxy of planets and stars were created for the walls of the school hall, which we blacked out using layers of polythene (a really cheap and effective solution, very easy to put up with staple guns and a few ladders). In small groups, children traced and coloured dozens of circles onto large rolls of paper. Some were faithful depictions of planets such as Earth and Mars, others were kids’ wild and fantastic ideas of far-away celestial bodies.

Late after school one night, my colleague Erin and I went loose with loud music and pots of luminous paint. We layered up the children’s artwork with colour that would glow and pop off the walls when the black-lights came on. We had SO MUCH FUN!

CPDS dance prep_costumes3 CPDS dance prep_costumes2Meanwhile, my living room was being transformed into a psychedelic sewing workshop. I planned the costumes around a key moment in our routine, when the kids would come together in concentric circles and perform the final explosion of a star. Piles of flourescent fabric built up, as I pulled together the ideas for 26 costumes. The help of an amazing group of parents finished it all off – we’ve got a great school community, who are so supportive of what we do in class.

Back at school, we were finessing routines and rehearsing our movements. I’m looking forward to showing you the final outcome!


Outer space – learning resources for children

We’re focusing on outer space in class this term and the children are getting into self-directed learning. I lead workshops on research skills and the students ‘dive in’ to our information sources.

I made a collection of learning resources on outer space for children – websites, videos and lessons mostly suitable for learners their age (8, 9 and 10 years old). It’s OK with me that some of the videos and lessons are sophisticated – even if kids aren’t fully comprehending the content, they’re looking at graphics and laying a foundation for ideas they’ll grasp another time.

Please feel free to copy and use this collection in your own teaching and learning.

Caroline’s Super-Cool Space Collection

The size and scale of the solar system
Compare the size of the sun and earth, compare sun to other stars, learn about the relative size of our solar system. A video from Khan Academy.

Compare the size of the moon, planets and sun
Simple illustration of how space objects near to Earth compare in size

Stars, blackholes and galaxies
How they formed and what happens to them (another Khan Academy video)

How big is the sun?
The sun and moon look like they’re about the same size in sky. A discussion of distance and radius. 

A day in the life of an astronaut

Compare worms, humans, Mt Everst, the moon, the Sun and other stuff

Why is the moon bigger on the horizon?
Have you ever seen the moon rising and noticed how huge it appears? Learn why it looked so big…

One small step for man…”
Watch the film of when man first landed on the moon

Learn about the Hubble space telescope

Amazing pictures of space, taken from the Hubble space telescope

These are real photos, taken by a hugely powerful camera.

How do we study stars?

What is a black hole?

“Twinkle, twinkle little star … you look small ’cause you are far”
Another way to sing that famous star song, using what you know about space!

A cartoon about comets

Dig around and find out more on these cool space sites.

Astronomy for kids
A collection of learning materials aimed at kids your age

National Geographic – the Voyager mission

Watch impressive astronomy clips, famous NASA footage, missions to outer space, the moon landing, mars rovers, space shuttle launches, fun space songs for kids.

Our very local observatory in Auckland! Lots of cool information and videos

The Guardian – Space
The space reporting of a British newspaper. What happend to the Russian spacecraft? Do Mars astronauts risk brain cancer? Why is Saturn’s moon like a sponge?
Huge resource of information about space. This is not collected for kids, but there’s lots of stuff to interest you.

You mean you want more?!  You are a spacey kid … here you go, get your head around this stuff!

Why don’t we know about aliens?

How many universes are there?

Does Pluto have an ice-cap?

How do black holes work?


Thanks for dropping by!


Space art – children’s art with outer space and planets


Mixed media space art Mixed media space art

Mixed media space artMixed media space art

This is a lesson on “space art”, that students completed as part of our inquiry into Outer Space. The class has been looking at amazing pictures from the Hubble telescope and other sources, and some children wondered why planets are different colours.

In creating this art, our learning intentions were to:

  • blend pastel colours smoothly
  • use shading to show a light source and shadows.

Each child started by making five or six circles on black paper, tracing around objects in the classroom. The biggest shapes were made using the bottom of a yoghurt pot we keep markers in, the smallest shapes were glue-stick lids. My coffee mug featured a few times too!

Next, children used pastel sticks and coloured the circles to represent different planets. I modelled how to use successively darker shades, blending the layers gradually. Some children chose to recreate images of planets they found in books and online, others were done from imagination. The planets were cut out carefully and kept together using a peg and name label.

We took another piece of black paper outside and flicked on red, white, yellow and blue acrylic paint using toothbrushes (super cheap from the $2 shop). We were making outer space backgrounds that represented the exploding stars, nebula and other phenomena we saw on the Hubble images.

When the background was dry, we arranged our planets and glued them on. Finally, to frame the art, we chose a coloured background that complemented the colours of our planets.

I created the ‘spaceman’ image, combining a photograph of a NASA astronaut and my own shading of craters on the moon’s surface.

image imageimage imageimage imageMixed media space art

Detail of spaceman

Space art lesson for children Kid art  Detail of planets