Astronauts | K-4 Unit Study

Astronaut Unit Study

Spine Book: Living in Space by Katie Daynes*

Related Topics: Jobs People Do, Space

Get ready to blast off as you explore astronauts on earth and in space.  Train like an astronaut, explore the International Space Station, find out how astronauts brush their teeth in space, and more!

You can simply have fun with the activities below, or here’s a complete, day-by-day six week unit study for your children grades K-4. Don’t forget to check out the booklist, and additional links and resources at the bottom of this post.

*Each section below is based on a section in Living in Space by Katie Danes.  You can check this book out at your local library or purchase it for $4.99 from my online store here. This book is not REQUIRED to do the unit study, but is highly recommended.  

Earth and Space

  • Look at pictures from space using Google Earth, or look at a globe and talk about what astronauts would see. Identify the continents. Talk about what you see. What are the white parts? Blue? Green? Brown? What else do you see?
  • Make an earth craft.  You can simply set out craft supplies and let your child create her own artistic interpretation of earth or you can do one of these crafts:

Space School

  • Do some gravity experiments
    • Try dropping things of different weights. Talk about how fast they fall.
    • Crater marble drop: Cover the bottom of a shallow pan with flour. Drop a marble from different distances. Look at the craters they make. Are they different? What’s happening?
    • Gravity jump:Gravity is what keeps us from floating away. Jump as far as you can. Measure your jump. Try to jump farther and farther. How far can you go? Young children can use non-standard measurements like a stick. For more advanced children, have them figure out the difference between the lengths of their jumps.
  • Take a field trip to a pool. Swim around to try to find out what it fells like in space.
  • Take a field trip to a playground.  Notice all the ways and places you experience gravity.
  • Read about how to become an astronaut and look at current space schools.
  • Physical exercise is a big part of astronaut training. Get active and train like an astronaut.

Preparing to Go

Lift Off

  • Find out all about NASA’s space shuttles on their interactive web site.
  • Did you know NASA is building a new space shuttle for a journey to Mars? Read the latest news on shuttle Orion.
  • Build and launch a simple baking soda rocket
  • Watch a live launch. Spaceflight Now broadcasts many live rocket launches.  When rockets aren’t launching they may be streaming a live Q&A session with astronauts currently in space.  This is a website you don’t want to miss out on.

In Orbit

  • Take a video tour inside space shuttle Discovery.
  • Watch a timelapse of an orbit around the earth.
  • Do an experiment and learn how satellites orbit.
  • Do the math. If the circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles, and it takes 90 minutes to orbit the earth, how fast is the space shuttle moving?

A Home in Space

The Space Station

  • Take a video tour of the International Space Station with astronaut Suni Williams.
  • Did you know that you can actually see the space station from Earth? Check to see the next time you should be able to spot the space station from your area.
  • Watch live streaming from the ISS. You could even watch the live stream when the space station is passing over your area and view your area from the sky.

Eating and Drinking

Keeping Clean

  • Check out this youtube playlist to watch videos on how to shower, shave, brush your teeth and wash your hands in space.
  • Think about some other things that might be difficult to use in space.  When do you use water? What about other liquids? Talk about all the things that would be different. If you like to write, write a story about waking up one day and finding your whole house in space.  How would you do basic, everyday things? If you are an artist, illustrate your story.

A Day In Space

  • Read about a day in space with astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
  • Astronaut Garrett Reisman filmed a video series about his day aboard the ISS. Feel free to watch all seven clips or just watch a bit here and there to see a day in the life of an astronaut.
  • Astronauts eat, sleep and make videos in space, but what else do they do all day? Read about all the different things astronauts do in space.
  • Did you know that there are lots of experiments going on all the time on the ISS? You can read an overview of them here.
  • Watch a video to see how astronauts sleep in space.

Space Suits

Going Outside

Back to Earth

Space Trips

Additional Resources


Check out the Usborne quicklinks that go with “Living in Space” which include how to draw an astronaut, a printable book, videos and more.


Vocabulary/Spelling List

You can go here to make handwriting sheets for your word list.

astronaut, shuttle, international, planet, gravity, fuel, orbit, payload, laboratory, airlock, mission, training

Book List

Printable Book List

*Denotes books that I have personally reviewed
Usborne books link directly to my Usborne shop website. I earn a commission on sales. No other earnings are associated with other links.


Activities, Toys, and Extras

None of these items are required to do this unit study, however, if you have a child who is particularly interested in a topic, this is a great list to expand learning opportunities.  It also might be something to hold on to for Christmas and birthdays. Some of these things can also be helpful to encourage a sibling who is learning along side of all your other kids, but may not be as interested in the topic.

Activity Books