The morning of this storytime, Wednesday, March 11 at 11:30 a.m., I checked the NASA site looking for a good video clip to show to accompany the books I had chosen. Turns out, NASA was conducting a solid rocket booster test, broadcast live, at 11:30 a.m.! I couldn’t believe my luck! So I pulled up the link on the new SmartBoard, Internet was working beautifully, and had the NASA TV live broadcast playing as children entered the room (for once I opened the doors a bit early!) And it turns out that a solid rocket booster test is a pretty impressive thing to see — lots of fire and smoke! And it all began with a real countdown (10-9-8 . . .) and many of the children joined in. You can watch the replay here: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html#.VQ2_PY5mqpY and read more about it on the NASA site.
After this opening, we talked about rockets and travelling to space. I asked if anyone had ever been to Mars or the moon, and this group knew a surprising amount about space (no air, robots have been to Mars, but not people).
I read Jason Chin’s Gravity (Roaring Brook, 2014) and they were totally engrossed by the illustrations.
Then I conducted a mini-rocket launch (the reliable Alka-Seltzer in a film caster type), complete with safety glasses and countdown. After putting the glasses away, we watched/read Eight Days Gone by Linda McReynolds (Charlesbridge, 2012) in Tumblebook format.
I also showed them the physical book afterwards and we talked about some of the images and travelling to the moon. I showed them the two-page spread below, and asked them what the blue green object was.
They all responded with “the earth!” So I asked, but isn’t the earth round? To which one said, “it’s night on the other part” and another said “it’s there — see how you can’t see any stars where the earth is?” I was amazed at how closely they were looking and observing and thinking about things.
This book is featured on RIF’s Multicultural STEAM Booklist for 2012-13 and their website offers suggested activities and handouts for parents.
Next, we danced and moved to “Rocketship Run” by Laurie Berkner, which featured even more counting backwards.
For the activity, kids made their own paper rockets, powering them with a straw.