Goodnight Moon has remained a favorite in part because portrays a rich environment.
Goodnight Moon Example
Teaching science Inquiry can seem daunting at first, but parents and teachers have been using the methods to engage children
for generations. Goodnight Moon is a classic book in part because Margarite Wise Brown and Clement Hurd created
a rich visual environment. It is rich enough to remind us that we already know how to teach Inquiry. Let's look at
a science lesson based on Goodnight Moon both with and without encouraging Inquiry:
Classic Science Teaching (tell the children all they need to know)
Class, we will use the book Goodnight Moon to teach lunar position, animal habits, health, heat transfer, and
color theory. First, lunar position. Starting at eight o'clock and proceeding in ten minute increments there is a corresponding
change in the angular position of the moon of precisely ten degrees. This can be shown by plotting the centers of each circular moon relative to the
windows South East corner and finding the perpendicular bisector of each successive pair. Upon completing this exercise, we find that the center of
rotation of the moon which must correspond to Earth's center, is incorrectly drawn...
The class is asleep by now. Let's move on the the next example.
Teaching Inquiry (Guiding the students to make observations, express wonderings, test their ideas and communicate their results)
Class, did you notice the red balloon on the pages of Goodnight Moon? If we blow up some red balloons can we get them to float?
(some student is bound to mention that the balloon in the book must be filled with helium). Helium? What is that?
Why does a balloon filled with helium float. How long will it float? (Some balloons are now filled up with Helium and
let loose in the room for observation) Based on the classes observations and interest, the class may proceed to complete the
activity Balloon Membranes the next day.
While it may be streaching the point some, but other teachers could use the "bowl full of mush" as a jumping off point to
the Mystery Mush activity. Other's might use the mouse to kick off an animal mapping activity, the
moon to inspire a moon phase chart, the fire to lead into heat transfer, bedtime to lead into health topics, or mush to lead
into nutrition studies. Teaching Inquiry only takes a rich environment, good listening skills, flexibility and time.
It's the same as when we encouraged these same children to point a pudgy little finger at the moon and make the connection
to the round glowing orb in the night sky, we are just asking a little more.