Universe Cycle - Universe (K)
Pre Lab 

  • Exploring outer space.
  • Discovering misconceptions of the Universe.
  • Solar System
  • Universe

Students look at the night time sky.


The Universe refers to everything that exists, including galaxies, nebulas, black holes, quasars, and other large items. The Earth is just a small portion of the entire Universe. The Universe is so vast an area, that it makes our planet look tiny by comparison. The Solar System is also a very small part of the Universe. It refers to our Sun and its surrounding planets.

The night sky is one of the most beautiful sights in nature. Just imagine the broad area of the Universe that you can observe, just by looking up. The vastness of the Universe makes many people wonder what it is and why it is there. These questions are very difficult to understand. Scientists throughout the last few thousand years have made many observations, but still do not fully understand the Universe. Learning about the Universe can act as a powerful lesson that humankind does not know many details about our existence.

Children are exposed to many television programs, movies, and cartoons that may suggest unproven ideas are facts. Aliens, space invasions, faster than light travel, and the ability to work in different galaxies make wonderful story lines, but are only science fiction in today's knowledge of the Universe. Children should realize that the Universe has many proven wonders, but many unknown components.

  1. Prior to this unit, it would be useful to ask students go outside at night (with their parent's permission) to observe the night sky. If you have a favorite book on looking at the night time sky, you may want to read it to your students in advance.
  2. Discuss with the students that the Universe is everything that exists, including our Sun, Moon, and all the galaxies and stars we see at night. The Solar System is a smaller "family" of one star (the Sun) and its planets. The Earth is one of those planets. If the students grasp these concepts, you may wish to explain that the Universe even extends beyond what we can see with our eyes, to more distant objects visible only through telescopes.
  3. Use the worksheet as a way for students to visualize what is really out in space. Before they color, ask them to express themselves orally on what is really in space. They usually relate stories they have seen on television or what they have heard at home. Ask the students to put them into the picture or other items that they think may be in space.
  4. After the students color and draw in items that they think are in space, ask them if everything in the picture is really in space. Little funny creatures are probably not just "hanging" out. The Moon does not have a face. Stars don't really twinkle, they just appear to, because of the Earth’s atmosphere. Stars are not star-shaped, but are actually round, just like our Sun. All the points of light that we see at night are either stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, or other galaxies.
  5. There are many other misconceptions that are in children's stories and poetry. Ask the children if a cow can jump over the Moon, or if the Moon is made of cheese or if there is a man on the Moon. You might want to talk about whether TV shows or cartoons that use "space" as a theme are realistic. Many of these shows talk about aliens, but no documentation exists that verifies them.
  6. But what happens if we find an unknown extraterrestrial being.  Would we shot it or capture it without trying to communicate peacefully with it?  How can you communicate with an unknown organism?  Since we would probably not understand the creature, we might have to use body language to determine if they are friendly or not.  You might get students ready for such an encounter by teaching them a "space dance."  Show the clip under Materials.  Discuss with students what movements are non-aggressive.  You might want to make a dance that shows non-aggression.  You also may want to use play dough and make your very own space alien.

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