Using Galileo to Study Astronomy, Math, History and Physics

Galileo Graphic

In light of my discovery that a significant amount of Astrophysicists have dyslexia, I decided to start our year studying Galileo. Of course you don’t have to have dyslexia to study Galileo, nor do you have to have dyslexia to use this lesson block.

This block can also be adapted to any age, many of the books we loved most were picture books that really glossed over the inquisition, and watching the night sky is fun for any age!

Galileo is really the perfect person to use to study moon phases. And September is a great time to study the moon because it is usually clear, and the temperature is perfect for spending evenings outside.

(One of the great things about homeschooling, is it really doesn’t matter how late it is when the moon comes out!)

Here’s an outline of our block on Galileo, and how, by chosing one larger topic, we are able to learn a number of subjects.

Who was Galileo?

We began by reading books on Galileo to familiarize ourselves with who he was, and what made him tick. For fun we also included the book How They Croaked, because boys love gruesome! We also watched a video to create a deeper understanding by incorporating the visual. (I will include a reading list at the end of the post.)

Using a telescope

We learned that Galileo invented the telescope as we know it today,  and in turn, invented the microscope as well.

We decided to use the telescope the same way Galileo did, we observed the moon, and made drawings of what we saw. It was fun, and a little creepy, to do this outside at night, just as Galileo did.

Creating a Calendar

We choose to create a calendar that would outline the moon phases so we could see if our observations through our telescope matched the recorded, and expected moon phases. This can be done with the naked eye, you do not need a telescope.

In creating the calendar we incorporated the mathematic principles of columns and rows, and using measurements and division.

In order to create a calendar we had to decide how to divide a piece of paper to have even columns and rows. 

We then needed to use a ruler to make our measurements, and then use it again to draw our straight lines.

Then we choose to write our dates in the first row only, so we could practice our +7 addition facts going down the column.

Because this was the month of September, we also took this opportunity to learn the rhyme:

30 days pass September;
April, June and November.

We will continue to create a calendar at the beginning of every month.

History

Galileo lived during a very important time in history. We took this opportunity to talk about the Renaissance and other famous people and advancements made during this time.

He also lived during the Inquisition, a dark time in the history of the Catholic Church. We talked about why this happened, and the consequences it had on the advancement of science.

This was also a good time to briefly discuss Aristotle and Copernicus. As Galileo debunked many of Aristotle’s theories, and attempted to uphold Copernicus.

We also had the opportunity to talk a little bit about Pisa, Venice, Rome and Padua. All places that Galileo lived at one time or another.

Physics

Galileo was the first scientist to debunk Aristotle’s statement that objects fell at varying speeds based on their weight.

Galileo discovered that objects fell at the same rate regardless of their weight, and demonstrated this by dropping a cannon ball and a musket ball from the top of the bell tower we know as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Astronomy

Galileo made many discoveries that were worthy of learning about. Of course most importantly, and all of them fall under the umbrella, of proving that the earth, and all of the planets revolve around the sun.

This of course was against the Catholic church’s belief that the Earth was the center of the universe and all planets revolved around it.

Galileo was the first person to identify Jupiter’s four moons, and in order to impress the Medici family, he named the moons after the four Medici sons.

Biology

As the inventor of the first microscope, Galileo was the first to make drawings of insects and discovered the beauty of the natural world on a miniature scale.

 

Learning about Galileo has been enlightening and fun. We have been inspired to recreate some of his experiments, and have had a renewed interest in the night sky.

What I love about learning this way, is it has sparked many spontaneous and random conversations about The Inquisition, the planets, and history in general.

We are really enjoying our time delving deeper into this subject, and based on what interests us most, we will choose our next victim!

Books:

Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment by Wendy Macdonald

galileo leaning tower

I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen

i, galileo

How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg and Kevin O’Malley

howtheycroaked

Books on the Moon and Planets:

Jump into Science: Moon by Steve Tomecek

moon book

 

13 Planets: The LAtest View of the Solar System by David Aguilar

13 planets

 

The Moon: Astronaut Travel Guides

moon astronaut travel guides

 

Boy, Were we wrong about the Solar System! by Kathleen Kudlinski

boy were we wrong solar system

 

Fly Guy Presents Space by Tedd Arnold

fly guy space

 

Two GREAT videos. I am a big fan of using videos with Isaiah. He seems to retain things so much more when we utilize every aspect of his senses.

Start Smart Science; I need to Know All About the Moon – I could not find this on Amazon, I got this video from my Library and highly recommend it!

Astronomy with Bill Nye This is another video to get from the Library, it is made by Discovery School, and you shouldn’t have a problem finding it. It covers many of the issues that you will find yourself discussion as part of your Galileo lesson.

 

Books we found that were not so great:
Galileo, ( his life and ideas) for Kids by Richard Panchyk (way too involved and intense)
Who Was Galileo? by Patricia Brennan Demuth (also, way too wordy)
Starry Messenger by Peter Sis (The pictures are super complicated, the text is way too basic)

I would love to hear how you used Galileo to explore your homeschool studies!

 

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Amazingly Beautiful Winter and Christmas Stories for Children

I love a beautiful story so much. There is something about the internal calmness that one feels after reading a story that is filled with soothing imagery and elegant language. A story that touches the nature of who we are, that slows us down and reminds us to look at the world around us. No matter the eloquent words used to describe such a story, they touch the souls of our little ones because they speak to the universal beauty in this world, something that is not unique to one person, something that makes us take a deep breath, and relax into that moment. The moment the story takes us away. These treasures have crossed my path over the years as I have continued to search for books that are more… More than the fun hokey Christmas stories, more than the obvious morals and much much more than the pure entertainment. Of course there is a place for those. But when I know it is time to help my child quiet his mind, this is where we go. the tomten The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren – This book is really a winter book. The best way to describe it is quiet. The imagery is amazing, with very few words as we watch the Tomten’s footprints move through out the farm, our imagination is piqued. Astrid Lindgren creates a story that is captivating and calming all at once. snip snap sledSnipp Snapp Snurr and The Yellow Sled by Maj Lindman – These books are over 70 years old. The whole series of Snipp Snapp and Snurr are absolutely a gift. The stories of triplets and how they work through simple life tasks. In this story the boys desperately want a sled, they work for the money and visit it every day. Another boy visits every day too, but when they find out how come he won’t be buying the sled, you will understand why this is the perfect Christmas book. the night before christmasThe Night Before Christmas original poem illustrated by Douglas Gorsline. I specifically recommend this version, there is something about the very classic drawings, they are like you are peering into someone else’s world. The details are amazing, and captivate my son year after year. This version is not modernized, nor is there a twist. It is what you would expect, it is an amazing peek into history and a quiet lyrical way to look at Santa Claus. christmas in noisy villageChristmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren – This book could not be more different than The Tomten. This book takes us back to a time where there was no electricity or refrigeration, where eggs were collected from out back and every single wonderful treat the children looked forward to at Christmas time was lovingly made from scratch by their mother. Christmas rituals consisted of time spent with friends and family, and also a few jokes. The children’s antics as well as awe are so wonderfully illustrated it makes you want to join them again. (Which you can by reading The Children of Noisy Village) the wild christmas reindeerThe Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett – Well this book would earn its spot on this list by the illustrations alone. But of course a book so wonderful would have to give us even more, and this story does. She is well-known for her illustration style because she uses the borders to deepen the story. While we watch young Teeka learn a lesson of teaching with kindness and the power of using kind word on the main pages, on the borders we watch the elves prepare for Christmas. The story is captivating, and the illustrations make you want to linger on each page. the secret staircaseThe Secret Staircase by Jill Barklem – This is one of many amazing books by Jill Barklem. After discovering this book I decided to just go ahead and buy The Complete Brambly Hedge. Within each of her stories you are transported into a world living beyond, the mice of the hedgegrow have homes and mansion within the trees along the river and at the edge of the fields. They are intricate, beautiful and delicate. They have a society amongst themselves, there are bakers, weavers, a keeper of the wine and even a Store Stump where every item you could possible need to cook with is kept to assure this beautiful community at Brambly Hedge makes it through the winter. The Secret Staircase is an adventure for two young mice who discover a part of The Old Oak Palace no one knows about and it is also about the celebration of Mid-Winter, such an intricately woven tale. We have read all of her stories year round for three years and the boy is still not tired of the vividness and detail that help feed this imaginary world that now has a permanent residence in his mind.

I highly recommend all of these books, I found them all through Amazon myself. Sadly many of them were not available at my library, however I never once regretted adding them to our collection.