Are you looking for some stellar activities you can do with your ESL class while you teach about space?
These activities will stimulate imaginations and get the creativity flowing as your students picture themselves in outer space and let others know what they see.
How To Teach About Space In Your ESL Classroom
What is it like in outer space? Your students will have to use their imaginations to answer that question, even if they have already learned extensive content about the universe beyond. Unless they have actually taken a rocket into orbit, your students will have to speculate what those outer regions are like. Divide your students into groups of four to talk about what they imagine outer space to be like. During their discussions, your students should try to use sensory descriptions when sharing their ideas. You can ask them questions like the following. What does it feel like in space? What can you see? Do you hear anything? What? Can you smell anything? What does it smell like? Is there any taste in the air? What will you eat while you are there? Giving students some informational books about space may help them put detail in their descriptions.
Encourage your students to be creative and use their imaginations in this activity. They may say they can smell green cheese when they are near the moon. They may see bits of ash floating by that have come loose from the sun. Because your students are using their imaginations, there are no wrong answers here as long as they can give good explanations for their ideas.
Wish You Were Here
Do you ever send post cards when you are on vacation? Have your students ever sent a postcard to someone from the U.S.? Have available for your class a collection of postcards from as many places as you can find. They are even more useful if they have a message written on them. Then give your class some time to look at the post cards and read the messages that the senders have written. Ask your students what they would want to say to their friends and family if they were to send a post card from outer space. Would they use the usual, “Having a great time. Wish you were here,” or something more original? Tell your students that they are going to write postcards to three people from outer space. Obviously they will not actually go into space, but they must imagine themselves there when they write the post cards. Give your students some pieces of card stock that are four inches by six inches, the size of a typical post card. Then have each student write three post cards to people, imagining that they are writing from space. Your students should also either draw or paste a picture onto the front of the card just as an actual post card would have. You can have your students drop their post cards into a classroom mailbox. Then post the cards on a bulletin board so the rest of the class can enjoy what their peers have written. You should post some cards with the message facing out and others with the pictures facing out. Once you take down your class’ post cards, encourage them to send the post cards to the people they wrote to, but make sure they explain the purpose of the class project when they do.
Someday, Someday Soon
For many years, people have dreamt of the day that human beings would live in outer space. Whether it was the moon, another planet or a man made space station, people have imagined themselves living in outer space for generations. There are plenty of movies and television shows to prove it, too. Encourage your students to think about the future. Can they picture themselves living somewhere other than planet earth? Pair your students with one another and give them time to discuss what it might be like to live some place other than earth. Each pair should work together to think about, discuss and describe what it would be like to live in this other place. The pair should draw a picture of their farfetched home and then present to the class the details about this place. Give each pair a chance to work on their public speaking, and then ask your class to vote on which scenario they think is most realistic or most likely to come true.
Is There Life On Other Planets
Some people have very strong opinions as to whether or not life exists on other planets. Do your students have opinions on the subject? If there is anyone who has a relatively strong belief on each side, divide your class for a debate. Give students some time to research and present a supported argument either for or against the proposition that there is life on other planets. If you have a class of at least twelve, put four students on each side of the debate. For the remaining four, have them act as judges in the debate. When the rest of the class has presented its arguments and had an opportunity for rebuttal, it is time for the final four to determine which side has presented a better argument. If you desire, have the judges work together to write an opinion, similar to those a judge would write, stating which side of the debate was more convincing and had stronger support.
Take a Survey
Have you ever challenged your class to write a survey and then go out and talk to participants? If not, the topic of life on other planets is a great topic to begin with. Divide your class into groups of four or five and have each group write a survey on life on other planets. For more specifics on writing a class survey, see “Go Ahead, Ask: How to Use Surveys to Teach English” in the busyteacher.org archive. Then have your groups go out into the public and ask the people they meet for a moment to answer a few questions. This activity will give your students practice speaking with native speakers as well as give them a cross section of opinions. After your students have gotten enough participants in their surveys, have them come back to class and discuss the results. Were they surprised at what people believe? Did most people share their own opinions? What can they learn from the opinions of others?
When teaching about space, there is no limit to what the imagination can do. These outer space activities will get your students practicing their listening, speaking and writing skills all with their imaginations engaged.
You can wrap up your space unit with one of many movies that portray life in outer space as you and your students come back down to earth for the next class unit. Have a great trip, and don’t forget to write!