Learning Through the Stars: A Review

Like most people, my children are enamored with the zillions of stars they see in the sky at night. We literally cheered when we were notified that we would have the opportunity to review the Book of Astronomy Set by Memoria Press. We could hardly wait for the package to arrive and while we waited, we began watching the night sky and talking about the stars in wonder of what we were going to learn.

We received two books, The Book of Astronomy: Constellations and the Solar System Student Book and the Teacher Guide and without any hesitation we dove right into the books when we got them. I usually take the time to really look things over prior to starting any lessons with the kids, but patience was nowhere to be found.

The books are divided into four units. The first three provide a thorough introduction of the constellations, the reasons for the various star groupings and names, magnitudes, and the zodiacs.. The fourth unit covers the solar system and outlines each of the planets, the moons and comets. Lastly, the appendix includes definitions of terms associated with constellations and solar systems, as well as a pronunciation guide. We found the pronunciation guide to be particularly helpful as there are many terms that are simply undecipherable.

We started in the beginning and completed the initial lessons in Unit 1: Constellations, Motions of the Earth, Names of the stars, and Star Magnitudes. We then decided to start in Unit 3 with the Spring constellations. We felt it made sense to study the stars that are present in the sky at this time of the year. Although this review was primarily for Bookworm Beauty (10), Sweetness and The Boy were right alongside of us the whole time. The kids particularly enjoyed learning the names of the only two major constellations that they were already familiar with: Ursa Major (which includes the Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor (commonly thought of as the Little Dipper).

workThere is very little laid out as far as lesson planning or verbiage for instruction. This was a bit different for us at first, but we ended up really appreciating it as it gave us the ability to work through things the way we desired to. After reading about the particular constellation being studied and the mythological story behind it, the students have the opportunity to basically connect the dots (stars) that are in the Student Book. They also write a brief summary, in their own words, of the mythological story and identify the magnitudes of the stars included.

Memoria Press also offers the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. This book is a great addition to the Book of Astronomy Set. We did not have the book during our review period but have sense purchased a copy and will be using it as we move forward through the curriculum.

As a side note, we are preparing to begin working on the solar system in the science program we are using for the school year. We are really excited that The Book of Astronomy: Constellations and the Solar System includes a fantastic overview and multiple worksheets to coincide with those studies.

I would definitely recommend this product. It is a great opportunity to teach the names of many of the constellations and to have an introduction to the stories behind the naming of them, However, it is also a great segway into teaching our children how to use the stars for mapping and as a guide. They may never have the opportunity (or need) to use the stars as a guide but they will be learning about many people in years past that did complete expeditions solely led by the night sky.

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