Monday, December 6, 2010

Earth Science: Nesting boxes from the Galaxy... on down to the Atom

I thought this was such a great idea for talking about our location, size and placement in the universe. It'd even be great for a study of maps. What a great lesson on where we live!!

I had these all stacked together and went over these one by one asking them which galaxy we live in, what planet, what state, city, street etc. Then piled them one on top of the next til it made the large stack you see at the left.

GALAXY: We are located in the Milky Way Galaxy

SOLAR SYSTEM: Our solar system has 8 planets and 5 dwarf planets

EARTH: We live on the planet earth which has 7 continents.

CONTINENT: We live in North America

STATE: We live in ... Montana, for example. (We actually live on the east coast.)

CITY: We live in the city of Great Falls, for example.

STREET: We live on Second Street, for example.

KIDS' PHOTO: This is us in our house at 88 Second Street.

ATOMS: Inside us, the smallest bits of matter are called atoms.

I simply printed out the appropriate pictures/maps from google images and mounted them on some construction paper on some cardboard nesting boxes we have around (from when LD was a baby!!).

This was a fabulous exercise because at one point, DD exclaimed, "I get it -- it goes from biggest, to smaller, smaller, smaller, ... smallest" as she tapped each box.  Both she and LD took turns both nesting the boxes and stacking them.  LD particularly enjoyed being timed to see how fast he could put them together.
I'm happy to say that I now know where I saw this activity: over at Little Acorns.  I had jotted it down for use with a study of maps. She also provided a link to the wooden nesting boxes at Waseca and the learning materials provided by the Waseca Learning Environment.   It seemed just perfect to fit in right now because we're going to spend a few days or so on the solar system.


  1. I love this activity. I was just about to make this activity and then I saw this post, amazing coincidence don't u think? This activity really helps to put everything in perspective for the child.

  2. Karen at Little Acorns just did something like this.

  3. Ok this is great. Definitely bookmarking this for when we do the solar system. Thanks :-)

  4. Hi Leann,

    Yes, that's it! I remember seeing her post now (I went to check it out again-- And as she mentioned, there's a great pdf file which I read through at by the Waseca Learning Environment (who also sells a wooden box version of this activity).


  5. This is truly an incredible unit study. Just the kind I love with plenty of action and hands-on, something I've found lacking in the few unit studies I've purchased. You're on my blog reading list! Thanks so much for sharing what you're doing. It's a HUGE help to me with my similarly aged children!