Gr 5 - Scratching the Heavens (Sci,ELA)

Kevin Ohama – Herman Leimbach Elementary School

Subject Area: Language Arts
Grade Level: 5th Grade

Overview: This lesson sequence is designed to have students learn the mythology of constellations and explore various ways these stories can be shared—from oral traditions and story telling, to written form, to digital media. The final product is a student-designed animation or game created using Scratch, a multimedia tool/programming language used to create animations, games, interactive stories, and art.


  • Students will learn constellation mythology
  • Students will record themselves retelling a myth of a constellation
  • Students will create a multimedia animation or game using Scratch
  • Students will use online resources to find an age-appropriate constellation myth to retell.


  • Begin unit by reading "The Heavenly Zoo” from the Open Court anthology.
  • Discuss various ways that the constellation mythology would have been shared in the ancient world, and contrast that with how we might be able to share mythology today.
  • Introduce guidelines for the Scratching the Heavens project:
    • Students use various websites to research an assigned constellation to find out the constellation’s mythology, choosing an age-appropriate version.
    • Students record their myths using a digital recorder.
    • Students storyboard their myth to plan for animation
  • Present mini lessons on how to use MIT's free gaming program Scratch: creating sprites, simple movement scripting, using the art tools, changing stage backgrounds, adding sounds, and advanced scripting such as broadcasting and variables. Note: for Scratch tutorials start with MIT's Scratch Intro Tutorialswebsite and their a growing set of tutorials.
  • Invite students to start creating their own animations using Scratch - collaboration is encouraged!


  • Internet-connected computers with Scratch installed
  • Flash drives
  • Digital recorders
  • Open Court 5th Grade Anthology
  • Pencils and paper

Lesson Resources:

Student Products:

  • Scratch animations - Coming soon!



  • Creativity and Innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
  • Research and Information Retrieval: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
  • Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, and Decision-Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions using appropriate technology tools. Students:
  • Digital Citizenship: Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.
  • Technology Operations and Concepts: Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.

Common Core Standards:

  • Grade 5 Speaking & Listening:
    • Comprehension and collaboration
    • Presentation of knowledge and ideas

CA Content Standards Language Arts:

  • Literary Response and Analysis 3.6: evaluate the meaning of archetypal patterns and symbols that are found in myth and tradition by using literature from different eras and cultures
  • Writing Strategies 1.4: Research and Technology: create simple documents by using electronic media and employing organization features (e.g., passwords, entry and pull-down menus, word searches, the thesaurus, spell checks)