Posts Tagged ‘outer space’

High School Astronomy for Homeschoolers

Monday, October 7th, 2019


I have been researching high school astronomy for homeschoolers for quite a few years, and it wasn’t until this year that I found a curriculum that looked beautiful, was beefy but not too mathematical, and that was understandable. I finally found it! I ordered the majority of these from Master Books, but my dad already had several of the books and DVD’s. The large Hubble coffee table book we got from Costco.

Here is a list of books that we got:

  • The Stargazer’s Guide to the Night Sky (includes planisphere inside back cover)
  • Survey of Astronomy: 9th -12th Grade Teacher Guide
  • Our Created Moon
  • Taking Back Astronomy

The four books listed above are all you need for a full year of high school astronomy. Besides the huge Hubble book, I’ve also added:

  • The New Astronomy Book
  • The Privileged Planet (DVD)
  • Our Created Moon (DVD)
  • The Heavens Declare (set of 3 DVD’s)
  • Binoculars, and hopefully a used telescope at some point

Unboxing High School Astronomy

To see the books up closer, take a look at this unboxing video, where I show you the beautiful photos and describe what I am doing for astronomy this year:

High School Field Trips for Astronomy

Just during the month of September, we have already gone on 5 astronomy field trips! The first one was an astronomy workshop at a local library, where the speaker presented many different astronomy activities that would be taking place in my area. I asked him where the nearest observatory was located, where the best place to see the Milky Way was, and when the next star party was scheduled.


On a different day we went to a planetarium, where we leaned back and observed outer space from a domed ceiling. I’ve always love planetariums because it makes me feel like I’m an astronaut in outer space, just floating and looking at the nebulae and planets.


We looked through telescopes at the sun during the daytime, to try to find solar flares and sun spots. On the day that we were looking, there were no sun spots or solar flares, but it was still cool to look through the expensive equipment to see the sun without hurting our eyes. The Spokane Astronomical Society had a booth at a local festival, and they were getting the public interested in astronomy by having their telescopes set up.


At night we attended a star party, which was also hosted by the Spokane Astronomical Society. We were able to find basic constellations, the north star, and some planets. We actually got to see four of the moons of Jupiter, and a red stripe going across it! (I’ve never been able to see that in real life before, so it was definitely cool.) And we also saw the rings on Saturn!


Our family also attended another workshop at a different library, presented by a NASA representative. The workshop was entitled “Space Frontiers.” We saw a space suit, Shuttle EVA suit glove, small rocket steering thruster, Martian meteorite, and other artifacts. Joe Bruce was the speaker, and he had witnessed four space shuttle launches and the launch of Space X Falcon Heavy from the Kennedy Space Center. He described what it was like, from the perspective of someone who was there!


We have learned so much high school astronomy so far and have experienced it! I’m always astounded at how much fun I have homeschooling my kids, and this year is no exception. Hands-on is the best way to learn about a subject, and we plan to go star gazing many more times this year.

Alien Spaceship Cake

Monday, May 12th, 2014

alien-spaceship-cakeMy 8-year-old son invented this alien spaceship cake for a Cub Scout cake contest years ago. He won first place! Here is the story of how this cake was made:

My son wanted to make a cake in the shape of the planet Saturn. We brainstormed how we could possibly do this, when I thought of baking half the cake in a glass Pyrex bowl. This would be the round top part of the planet, and a round cake would be the rings of Saturn. We baked the cakes and placed them into the fridge overnight before frosting.

The next day when we opened the fridge, my son saw the cake and thought it looked like an alien spaceship! So he decided to make an alien spaceship cake instead of the planet Saturn.

He frosted the bottom cake purple and the top part yellow. He made a light blue front window, which he outlined with black icing gel. Then he went to town adding candy embellishments. We used gum drops, Life Savers, M&M’s, and other random candy. My son wanted a piece of green licorice to outline the top of the ship. He outlined several lines on the bottom part of the ship with black icing gel. He stuck in pretzels, and he shoved gum drops on the top of each pretzel. Two chocolate cookies were placed at the back, where the motor would be. His work of art was finished.

No wonder he won first place! This alien spaceship cake turned out fabulous!

Solar System Cake

Monday, May 5th, 2014


We finished our study of outer space by making this cool Solar System cake! One night at dinner I was brainstorming with the kids how to make a cake look like the sun and the planets. I was thinking I would do a rectangular cake with dark blue icing and draw the sun and planets with icing gel.

But dark blue frosting is very hard to make because icing starts white. And it seems like a lot of work to draw the sun and planets with frosting, especially if your hands start trembling because you want to make it perfect.

I could use candies for the different planets instead of drawing them, choosing the correct colors and sizes for the candy for each planet.

Suddenly a different idea it hit me: Bake one cake in a circle pan, and frost it yellow. Then make the planets cupcakes! “Brilliant!” I shouted at the dinner table, beginning to sing the Halleluyah chorus. The kids cheered, laughing hysterically at my singing. Of course the kids approved, since making cake means eating cake.


I cut a piece of cardboard slightly larger than the circle cake, taping foil on it, before plopping the cake down on it. After the cake cooled, we frosted it yellow. I placed gold-wrapped Rolo candies around the edge to make the sun fancy, but you could use any yellow candy.

I mixed different colors of icing, and I frosted the cupcakes according to the color of the planets. I frosted Mercury with chocolate frosting instead of trying to make gray frosting. (Yuck! Who would want to eat that?) The Earth cupcake was first frosted with blue, then green blobs for the continents. Jupiter was yellow with swirls of red. Saturn was yellow, and I stabbed a pink pipe cleaner as a ring around it. You could also use licorice.

I placed the Solar System cake on a dark blue sheet that I threw on the table, and I used white candy sprinkles for space dust. Don’t you just love it?

Earth and Space Series

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Earth-And-SpaceThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

We’ve had such a great time this year, doing all the hands-on activities in the book Earth and Space by Bright Ideas Press. We’ve formed Earth layers out of clay, dramatized the moon revolving and rotating around the sun, shook sandy earthquakes, dyed plate tectonic eggs, erupted a volcano, grown stalactites, cooked layered sedimentary rocks, performed skits of the water cycle and ocean currents, raced slow glaciers down a ramp, watched how groundwater sinks through layers of sand and pebbles, painted an atmosphere mural, made homemade weather instruments, created a tornado in a bottle, performed a ridiculous weather report, colored the phases of the moon on paper plates and Oreos, made sun prints, and created fun planet cards for the solar system. We did lots of other activities, too, which I mention in the videos contained in each blog post.

Besides all the wonderful hands-on activities in the Earth and Space book, the text was fun and conversational and included plenty of rich vocabulary for each topic. The printable diagrams were great, and all the printables were on a computer disc that came with the book. (The disc is attached to the back inside cover and can be removed after purchasing the book.) This makes the pages easy to copy, since you don’t have to slap a large book on the photocopier. (You are allowed to print copies for your own family.) My kids enjoyed coloring the gorgeous coloring pages, too, so make sure to have some quality colored pencils on hand before beginning the book. We placed all the pages into a notebooking binder, and we decorated the outside of the binder. (I show you how we did this in the first video tutorial below.)

I thought it would be easier for people to find all the posts if I made an index page, so here it is. When you use the book Earth and Space by Bright Ideas Press, be sure to come back and watch the experiments to help you see how they can be done.

Earth and Space Series:

  1. The Earth: Hands-on Activities
  2. Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes
  3. Make Your Own Volcano
  4. Caves Unit Study
  5. Edible Sedimentary Rocks
  6. Water Unit Study
  7. Groundwater Experiment
  8. Atmosphere Unit Study
  9. Hands-on Activities for Weather
  10. Ridiculous Weather Report
  11. Moon Unit Study
  12. Solar System Unit Study