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Rachael Walker

In this special series, children's literacy consultant Rachael Walker and many of the authors, parents, and educators she’s met and worked with talk about how books have changed their lives, how to bring books to life for young readers, and how to enrich kids’ lives with good books. (Also visit Rachael at her blog, Belle of the Book.)

3... 2... 1... Blast Off! AHC Inc. Space Rangers

August 16, 2019

Becky Koons is with AHC Inc., an affordable housing nonprofit in Arlington, Virginia. AHC’s Summer Camp program is designed to prevent learning loss — a particular challenge for low-income students — through both educational and enrichment experiences.

Becky believes there is not much better than sitting on the beach with her toes in the sand getting lost in a good book. One of her favorite things working with youth is to watch the excitement and happiness on her students faces when they have found a book they really enjoy!

 

My name is Becky Koons and I am one of the Assistant Directors of Resident Services with AHC Inc. in Arlington, VA. Every year we host a 6-week Summer Camp program for our elementary school students across our communities. This year we are implementing the Space Rangers curriculum at all five of our Community Centers’ Summer Camp Programs. Our students and staff could not be more excited to share some of our OUT OF THIS WORLD experiences with you.

Our Space Rangers Summer Camp is well under way. Students have been spending the last few weeks learning all about the planets in the solar system and what the environment would be like to live in space.

Diverse group of elementary kids in a summer learning program

Do Martians exist?

Create a Martian: Students started out the day learning new vocabulary words including “atmosphere,” “crater,” “gravity,” and “Martian.” They used these new words to describe the look of Mars (how would it feel, sound, smell?). Students became lost in their own thoughts about what they believed life in outer space would be like. To help guide the discussion further, our staff asked the campers questions like these:

  • What if humans traveled to Mars?
  • What would we need to bring in order to survive?
  • If we met a Martian, what would it look like?

This led us to start one of the student’s favorite activities: “Create a Martian!”

Students took time to imagine their own version of a creature from the planet Mars. Using classroom materials, students designed and brought Martians to life! Sites even took it a step further and incorporated the writing component. Students wrote stories about the Martians — where they lived, what their UFO looked like, and even what they do for fun with their fellow Martian friends — so cool!

Diverse group of elementary kids in a summer learning program about space, Mars and Martians

Exploring the Moon!

This summer we also had the opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon mission! It aligned perfectly with the Space Rangers curriculum and everything the students were learning. The next fun activity we wanted to share with you all, had our students experiencing just what it was like to move and work in space!

  • How does living in space affect an astronaut’s body?
  • How would you prepare to go to space?

We wanted our summer campers take on the role and feel just like a real-life astronaut! Students took a moment and thought about what it would be like to LIVE in space.

  • How would you complete your everyday tasks without gravity?!
  • How would your daily routines change?

After reading aloud Astronaut Academy by Steve Martin to help continue to spark their imagination, staff took students outside to participate in their very own Astronaut Workout!

Our astronauts-in-training practiced jumping, crab walks, and bear crawls! We learned we may need a few more workout sessions before we travel into space :)

Diverse group of elementary kids in a summer learning program about space practicing astronaut exercises

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"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss