Sunday, December 15, 2013

Phases of the Moon- How the Moon Regained Her Shape and Neil Armstrong {Must Read Mentor Texts for Science}

Hey there!!!

We are here again to share with you a must read mentor text for science...well actually TWO!

We have just finished up our unit on the solar system and from there, we go into the phases of the moon.  We've shared a few books that we use during our moon unit and I wanted to talk about one that I have added to my collection

It is called, How the Moon Regained Her Shape by Janet Ruth Heller.

Here is the description from Amazon:

How the Moon Regained Her Shape is a fiction picture book for children.  Janet Ruth Heller has written a legend influenced by Native American folktales that explains why the moon changes shape and helps children deal with bullies. The sun insults the moon, and the moon feels so badly hurt that she shrinks and leaves the sky. The moon turns to her comet friend and her many friends on earth to comfort her. Her friends include rabbits and Native Americans. Then she regains her full shape, happiness, and self-esteem, and she returns to her orbit. An educational appendix gives advice about bullying, scientific information about the moon, and ideas for related activities for children. 

Children will learn from this book 1) that they need to tell friends and adults when bullying occurs, 2) that a bully's insults are seldom true, 3) that children will recover from abuse, and 4) that we can be friends with people who are different from us. Bullying thrives in secrecy, and most kids feel intimidated by abuse. Adults will learn that many children need the help and advice of friends and adults to stop bullying and to recover from the loss of trust and self-esteem that such harassment causes.

This is a simple book with beautiful illustrations!  I like it because it is based on Native American folkore, which we talk about when we teach our Native American unit, it talks about the phases of the moon (or you can at least infer them), and it touches on bullying.  Wow!  That's a lot in one story!!  

This will be a neat book to go through and have students find the phases of the moon within the story.  I think it would also be a great extension for them to create their own Native American tale about the phases of the moon, or even just any tale about the moon.

You know, the man in the moon, the cow jumped over the moon....well they could get more creative than that but I think it's fun to expose them to the stories and myths from a long time ago!

We are also reading Who Was Neil Armstrong by Roberta Edwards.

This is a quick read for my students and for the most part, at their level.  I have been having them read two chapters a night for homework and then we read them together as a class.  I created a unit last year with writing prompts for each chapter.  For most of the chapters, I had two prompts that could go along with it.

This year, I changed it up a bit.  You know how you create something and you have one thing in mind?  Well, my daughter's teacher also used my unit and she did it differently and I thought, hey, that's a good idea!!  Why did I not even think of that???  Duh.

Well, what I've done this year, is give them the writing prompts and have them paste both in.  They are typed so that they can be cut into strips and be pasted at the top of a notebook page.  So, now, we do one together so I can model going back in the text and finding evidence to support my thinking and then I give them the other prompt to complete for homework.  This has really helped with keeping them accountable!!  A big thank you to my daughter's awesome teacher for making me realize I can use my own unit differently than I had thought!

I think I'm going to try this more often for homework.  It really takes very little prep time.  Just think of a writing response for the book you are reading, whether in guided reading groups or a class read aloud, type it, print it, paste it and then they can respond!!!  Simple yet effective!!

Also, with using this book, it's a great time to compare and contrast different view points or accounts of the same event, which is totally Common Core.  

Here I found a video interview with Neil Armstrong.  It's long, but right from the first few seconds with Neil Armstrong, it goes right along with the book!!!  It is AMAZING to watch and for the kids when they see that he's actually talking about what we are reading!!!!  They can actually hear it from his mouth and then compare it to the book.  Not only that, they were able to talk about what is left out of the book, and whether that impacts the story of his life for the reader or not.  (It goes very in depth and you'll want to make sure you watch it because there are parts you may want to skip.) There is also an interview from Buzz Aldrin at scholastic that students can compare to Neil's experience on the moon!!

And I'll tell you this, it doesn't matter how many times I watch the video clip of when he says his famous words "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" I still get chills.  I am so amazed and I think it is sooooo awesome that we have YouTube and can actually watch that moment in history!!

Neil Armstrong is not a hero that we are "supposed" to teach about in our state, but it goes with our moon unit and gives great nonfiction for students to dive into.  Especially with all of these resources, it's a no-brainer to include him!!  And, it's just plain fun for me and the students!  They LOVE learning about him and space travel!!  

Do you teach about the moon?  Do you have any awesome resources you'd like to share that I haven't found?

I can't wait to see what is linked up!
Please Link Up!

Next week's linky- Social Studies


  1. I love that the title of How the Moon Regained Her Shape sounds like a science book but is actually very different.


  2. I love the idea of modelling an answer and assigning one for homework or independent work - that is a great idea. I love that series of books, my daughter used the one on Amelia Earhart for her biography project. I love how easy they are for students to read and still pack in so much info. Great idea about the video too!! I will be back later to link up - off to Christmas shop - still have plenty of time, no need to panic yet, right?

  3. I bought a small group set of Who Is Neil Armstrong when Common Core was first introduced and was afraid to use it without much guidance. I purchased your unit this year and used it with my fourth grade class. They absolutely loved it! They've made more connections with this book than I could have ever imagined. Thanks for an awesome unit and the video suggestions!

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