Apollo 13 Learning Extensions: Out of This World!

Allison Friedman

Storyworks’s February nonfiction feature tells the gripping story of the Apollo 13 disaster, a mid-flight explosion that thrust three astronauts into a desperate fight for survival. We’re willing to bet that the story had your students on the edge of their seats—and left them in a frenzy of enthusiasm for all things outer space!

Here are four resources to add (rocket) fuel to the fire:

TO READ: An in-depth book about Apollo 13

TO-DO: A movie script

We’ve been eagerly awaiting this new book on Apollo 13 from Storyworks friend and contributor Tod Olson. His exciting account of the disaster delves deep into the minds of the three astronauts, helping readers understand what it felt like to be stranded 200,000 miles from Earth—and how much courage and determination it took to steer the spacecraft safely home.

LEARNING TASK: Have students pick a favorite part from the book and write it into a movie scene. Their scenes should include detailed stage directions and dialogue between the characters.

TO EXPLORE: An interactive website about the Space Race

TO-DO: An expository paragraph

Our article touches briefly on the Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but doesn’t explore it in depth. This engaging DK website is packed with kid-friendly information that will fill in the historical background for students.

LEARNING TASK: Ask students to write a new paragraph for the “A Space Race” section of Storyworks article, explaining what the Space Race was. They should include at least three details from the DK website.

TO EXPLORE: NASA’s Apollo 13 photo archive

TO-DO: A photo booklet (or slideshow)

Your students will love poring over this treasure trove of behind-the-scenes photos of the Apollo 13 mission. (Our favorite? The above shot of the mission’s Flight Directors celebrating the spacecraft’s safe landing.)

LEARNING TASK: Have students choose five of the photos to turn into an informational photo booklet. They should download the photos (using the download link in the bottom right-hand corner), paste them into a Microsoft Word document, and write a short caption underneath each one.

(Alternatively, they can use a free app like Shadow Puppet Edu to create a simple photo slideshow.)

TO WATCH: A primary source video of the first moon landing

TO-DO: A research project and journal entry

The footage of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon is just as electrifying today as it was nearly 50 years ago. Students will be able to imagine what it must have felt like to be one of the 600 million people watching the historic TV broadcast.

LEARNING TASK: After watching the video as a class, ask students to independently research the Apollo 11 mission online. Then have them imagine they’re a kid in 1969 and write a journal entry describing the experience of watching the moon landing on TV.

We can't wait to hear how these work in your classroom, and as always, let us know if you found any useful learning extensions for a Storyworks or Storyworks Jr. story!

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