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Blast Off into Learning: Celebrate National Astronaut Day!

by Peggy Reimers

Buckle up and prepare for liftoff, because on May 5, we’re celebrating National Astronaut Day! National Astronaut Day is dedicated to honoring the brave men and women who have ventured beyond our atmosphere, pushing the boundaries of human exploration.

What Is National Astronaut Day?

This special day commemorates the historic moment in 1961 when Alan Shepard became the first American to journey into space aboard the Freedom 7 capsule. While his suborbital flight only lasted 15 minutes and reached an altitude of 116 miles, it marked a giant leap for humanity and ignited a passion for space exploration that continues to this day.

National Astronaut Day is more than just a celebration of past achievements. It’s a fantastic opportunity to inspire your students and spark their curiosity about the universe. Imagine the excitement you can cultivate by using this day to explore the lives and accomplishments of these modern-day heroes. Do remember, this day falls on a Sunday in 2024, so plan accordingly.

I have designed three resources for this space-tacular day. Don’t forget to check out the section at the end for even more stellar ideas and materials curated from the vast reaches of the web!

Activity #1: Astronaut Firsts 

I personally never can remember what John Glenn and Neil Armstrong did first! So just in case you get your astronauts mixed up like I do, you need this Canva presentation. The slide deck has 12 astronauts which includes their photo, achievement, and date of the event. Use it for a jumping point to talk about notable astronauts or perhaps students can choose an astronaut and explore additional details about the astronaut’s life, extraordinary space-feat, and their contributions to space exploration.

Activity #2: Things We Have Because of Space Travel

Space travel has been instrumental in providing all kinds of inventions and technologies that make life easier for humans on Earth. Do you know what we have and use today thanks to space exploration? Test your knowledge with this 12-question quiz! Play it as a class, in teams, or partner students up. Each question offers three multiple-choice answers that might just stump you and your students. How many can you figure out?

Activity #3: Space Syllacrostic Puzzle

I’m excited to share another syllacrostic puzzle! This is the fourth syllacrostic I’ve made since I first tried my hand at a Thanksgiving theme a couple of years ago. This 18-word syllacrostic puzzle is space-themed. Remember teachers you can always email me for the answers at preimers@tcea.org .

Just in case you are unfamiliar with this type of puzzle, here are the basics. A syllacrostic puzzle has 15 to 20 words to solve. You use the given pool of syllables to help you find the answers. The activity also has the following information as clues for each word:

  1. A related word or phrase
  2. The number of syllables in the word
  3. The number of letters for each word

Additional Astronaut Day Resources

Hopefully, these resources, mixed with a sprinkle of your own creativity, can transform your classroom into a launchpad for space exploration!  May your students be inspired by the bravery and achievements of astronauts, and ignite their own passion for the wonders of the universe. Happy National Astronaut Day!

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