ALBANY — Alexander Elementary Schools’ six kindergarten classes lined up in the hallway Monday morning and counted down, “3-2-1 blastoff,” to Space Day.
Each classroom was transformed into an out-of-this-world craft and learning station, ranging from rockets and comets to flying saucers that engaged kids with different aspects of space.
Kindergartener Maddie Brookins said her favorite part of the morning was making stars and getting to decorate them after she cut them out.
Maddie’s teacher, Connie Sheets, covered her classroom walls with black trash bags to emulate the void of space, and decorated it with stars and planets. Several strings of Christmas lights hung from the ceiling, simulating far-off distance stars throughout the galaxy. An aluminum-built UFO, complete with alien beings, greeted earthlings as they entered the room.
Space Day is the climax of the two to three weeks spent covering space, said Sheets, who sported a classic white astronaut space suit. The order of the planets, what astronauts eat in space and gravity were among the topics covered in the last couple of weeks, she said.
“We hope they at least know the planets, we hope they know what is in space, what the difference is in space compared to Earth,” Sheets said.
As for Pluto, it is a dwarf planet.
“I told them that Pluto got demoted. And basically, they decided that Pluto didn’t have enough, or all of the features to be a planet, so it is a dwarf planet. We don’t consider Pluto a planet,” Sheets explained.
Students in Sandy Thomas’ classroom, another Kindergarten teacher, made wind catchers with space-oriented decorations. Paper mache planets donned the walls in her classroom.
Her students got to make special ice cream, similar to what the astronauts eat, and ate “space pudding” as part of their interactive learning, she said.
As for re-creating zero gravity, Thomas had her kids lie down under the tables and draw their names upside down to try to get the feeling of floating in space.
Space Day is part of an annual “trip” the teachers plan, Sheets said.
“When we do our trips, we try to meet the (educational) standards, but we try to bring up something the kids will enjoy and something we can teach them,” she said.
As for next year’s theme, Sheets hinted transforming the classrooms into a Disney World adventure may be on tap.