By Teachers, For Teachers
On April 12, 1961, Colonel Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin (a soviet cosmonaut) was the first human to travel into space. Every April, schools across the globe celebrate this magnificent journey to outer space by learning about the wonders of space, and participating in space-related activities. Here are a few ideas and activities to help you celebrate and honor this wonderful achievement in your classroom.
Born on March 9, 1934 Yuri Gagarin grew up on a farm in Russia. He later became one of the first Soviet Cosmonauts (Russian for Astronaut). On April 12, 1961 Gagarin piloted the first documented mission to space. He orbited the earth for 108 minutes and landed safely in a metal capsule called Vostok 1. Gagarin later died at the tender age of 34 when his plane crashed near Moscow. He left behind a wife and two children.
The ability to be able to send a human into space is undeniably one of the greatest achievements of mankind. After Gagarin's journey into space, the desire to explore the unknown continued. Once Gagarin's capsule returned safely to earth, it only took one month for U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard to become the first American to reach space and return safely. The success of these flights set the stage for further NASA missions. On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first human to set foot on the moon. Since then, about 450 people have explored space, and the United Nations have declared April 12th the International Day of Human Space Flight.
Introduce your students to the wonders of space by reading a few books, such as "If You Decide to Go to the Moon" by Faith Mcnulty, "Footprints on the Moon" by Mark Haddon, and "One Giant Leap: The First Moon Landing" by Dana Meachen Rau. Discuss the infamous first walk on the moon, Yuri Gagarin's exploration into space, and Appollo 11. Then talk about space firsts, list the following facts on the front board and have students work in pairs to put the events in chronological order.
Once students think they have mastered the task, choose one person from each group to come up and correctly place one space fact on the front board.
Here are fifteen activities and resources to help make learning about space an out of this world experience.
Choose a few of these space-related stories to read to your students on International Day of Human Space Flight: