Traveling Planetarium Gives Preschoolers a Virtual Trip to the Moon

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, M.S. SpEd

During the month of October, preschoolers in Warren, Ohio traveled into space and across the world all within the comfort of the Willard PK-9 School. Their experience included a roaming planetarium which visited the school to introduce the children to astronomy.

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The Sesame Street themed project, Growing Up Great Together Under One Big Sky, featured beloved Sesame Street characters like Elmo and Big Bird, and introduced the preschool-aged children to math and science concepts. The children also received a visit from Hu Hu Zhu, a character from the Chinese version of Sesame Street. Creators of the traveling exhibit believe that adding the multi-cultural element to the lesson gives children the opportunity to feel a connection to other parts of the world.

The project, which is mainly funded by PNC Foundation, brings a portable planetarium to the classroom which allows students the opportunity to virtually visit the moon and gaze on constellations like the Big Dipper. Sesame Workshop created the traveling show to tap into kid’s imaginations while bridging the gap between cultures.

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Students were given activity posters which featured English, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish vocabulary terms to introduce them to different languages. Brandi Scrock, a preschool teacher at Willard, also received an astronomy curriculum which allowed her to present concepts ti the children before and after the exhibit came to their school. Shrock also spent time reading books with the children which gave them additional knowledge about basic astronomy concepts. “The kids are really grasping the concepts,” she said.

Schrock taught the children how to differentiate between stars and planets in the night sky and took them on a “guided trip to the moon,” with a Cosmic Kids Yoga session. Students received additional at-home activities to complement the lessons they learned in the classroom.

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