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Astronaut Handbook Teacher’s Guide

By Meghan McCarthy

Astronaut Handbook by Meghan McCarthy



Blast off to astronaut school with Meghan McCarthy and the Astronaut Handbook. Take a ride on the “Vomit Comet” and learn how it feels to be weightless. Try a bite of astronaut food, such as delicious freeze-dried ice cream. Have your measurements taken–one hundred of your hand alone–for your very own space suit. Featuring McCarthy’s trademark humor, Astronaut Handbook contains fun facts about what it takes to become an astronaut. Includes an author’s note with additional resources.


Meghan McCarthy is the critically acclaimed author-illustrator of The Adventures of Patty and the Big Red Bus, Aliens Are Coming!, and Strong Man. For more information,visit her Web site at


Who can become an astronaut? Would you like to become one?

Which type of astronaut would you most like to be? Why?

What does “take a lot of preparation” mean? What other types of jobs
take a lot of preparation?

Why do you think a fitness test is so important for aspiring astronauts?

What types of exercise do you like to do?

Are you a good team player? How do you improve on this important skill?

Why is survival training so important for an astronaut?

If someone offered to take you up on the Vomit Comet today, would you go?

Why or why not? What would be the best part of being weightless?

Did you notice the astronaut’s utensils for meals? Why are scissors
important? Which food would you most like to try?

What’s the most interesting fact you learned in the book?

Where can you learn more?

Why is it best to like small spaces if you want to be an astronaut?

Do you like them or not? Why?

Which illustration is your favorite? Why?


Ask students: What is a handbook? Have you ever used a handbook for a sport, club, or activity? What kinds of things did it help you do? What could you write a handbook for?

Language Arts —
Lead a class discussion about career choices and then have students interview someone who
has a career they might be interested in learning more about. They should write at least three questions that they
think are most important to know. After the interview, have them send a thank-you note for sharing their time.

Have students design a gadget or tool that they think an astronaut would find handy in space.
It could help them do their job or just do simple tasks like writing, reading, cooking, or playing a game. What
things do you need to consider that are important in your design?

History—Send students to the NASA Web site at to discover great games and resources.
Have them create a time line of human space flight with at least five important events included, or have them
create a poster about one of the missions and share it with the class.

Art—Share images from space on the NASA Web site and in books. Then, inspired by what they see, have
students create their own piece of art celebrating the universe. It can be a painting, sculpture, collage, or line
drawing. Lastly, have them write a brief paragraph that explains what inspired their piece.

Vocabulary—Distribute a chart based on words from the book to the class for them to fill out. For the first
two columns, students should check which description is more accurate for them. In the last column, they should
try to use the word in a sentence.

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