Skip To Main Content

Select a School

Madison Metropolitan School District

Books and Stories of the Night: Teacher's Guide

Outline of concepts to be presented

Expanded description: We start with a daytime sky and fast-forward through time, through sunset, to a reasonable time to explore the current night sky. As the planetarium inspires our curiosity, we talk about a commonality between the night sky and books -- they both inspire our imagination. We explore some of the nocturnal animals we might see and hear at night, and some related books. We explore a few constellations and the moon, and books that relate to each. We talk about the fact that books are not only fun but also teach us many wonderful things about the universe around us. And finally we read the book "My Place in Space", by Robin and Sally Hirst, and then use a program called Starry Night to zoom out away from the Earth to illustrate where we live.

Books Mentioned in the Program:

Note that it is not intended that you read these before your visit to the planetarium.

  1. Always Looking Up: Nancy Grace Roman, Astronomer; by Laura Gehl; ISBN 978-0807502969
  2. The Very Quiet Cricket; by Eric Carle; ISBN 0-399-21885-8
  3. Stellaluna; by Janell Cannon; ISBN 0-15-200284-7
  4. North Country Night; by Daniel San Souci; ISBN 0-440-41029-0
  5. While the World is Sleeping; by Pamela Duncan Edwards; ISBN 978-0-545-01756-5
  6. Goodnight Moon; by Margaret Wise Brown; ISBN 0694003611
  7. Moonshot: the Flight of Apollo 11; by Brian Floca; ISBM 978-1534440302
  8. Long Night Moon; by Cynthia Rylant; ISBN 0689854269
  9. My Place in Space; by Robin and Sally Hirst; ISBN 0-531-05859-X (Note: it is not recommended that you read this book as a class before your visit to the planetarium since we read this book together in the program.)

General Concepts

  • day/night
  • nocturnal animals
  • moon
  • constellations
  • our place in the universe

Current Sky

 The constellations and planets that are visible change over time. But we usually try to cover: any planets currently visible in the evening, Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, one seasonal constellation, and the Milky Way.

Connecting to the Classroom

This program could match well with literature, nighttime, or astronomy units, and would be fine as either an introduction or wrap-up to the unit.

Activities you might consider doing in the classroom:

  • Ask the students to go out at night and look for things that they can see or hear that would be different from daytime; then make a list in the classroom the next day.
  • As a follow-up to the program, provide an opportunity for students to read or check out the books mentioned in the story and others that your librarian recommends. (see the book list above)
  • In the program, we read the book "My Place in Space", in which Henry and Rosie explain where they live. After the program, you may want to further explore the "zoom-out" that we do at the end of the program. We've provided some graphics on the Zoom Out page to help you explore this concept further with your students.

Vocabulary: some of the words the students will likely encounter

  • stars
  • planets
  • nocturnal
  • galaxy
  • solar system
  • sunset
  • constellation
  • universe
  • moon phases