Elementary 9 Stellar Science Fiction Short Stories to Bring Imagination to Elementary Classrooms

Teacher pointing to laptop while student is working

These creative science fiction texts will bring imagination, investigation, and excitement to your classroom!

Sharing science fiction stories is a great way to incorporate imaginative themes and ideas while also promoting strong reading comprehension. Your students will love following these curious characters as they adventure through new explorations!

Here are 9 exciting science fiction short stories to incorporate into your ELA curriculum to engage your students in discovery of worlds outside of our own.

Candles in Space” by Pamela Love (3rd Grade)

This sweet short story takes place in the future, following a family as they move from Earth to Mars. The story’s narrator, David, is a young boy who is about to celebrate his 9th birthday in space. A mishap at David’s birthday celebration causes a surprising twist, and David must find a creative solution.

This story is a great opportunity for students to learn to engage with science fiction in their ELA classes. Teachers can show the video, “Eating In Space: An Astronaut’s Life,” located under the Related Media tab. Follow the page’s discussion prompt, “Based on the video, have students discuss whether or not they think it would be possible to have a birthday cake in space.”

Screenshot of CommonLit's Related Media tab for "Candles in Space"

Time Travel in Fourth Grade” by Jenny Hogan (4th Grade)

In this story, the narrator travels through time to help his future self win a science scholarship. Students will love reading this thrilling science fiction short story about a science fair project. This story is a great way to teach students about how their actions today can help them succeed later in life.

Engage students in an exciting conversation about time travel by asking them Discussion Question 1: “How would you feel about traveling through time? Would you want to travel through time? Why or why not?”

Intro the Wind” by Pamela Love (4th Grade)

In this inventive short story, a young girl named Harper has moved from Earth to a planet called Via. On Via, people and animals can fly, but Harper must use a hovercraft to get around because she cannot fly. The story explores the idea of being different from your peers and feeling left out because of these differences.

To dive further into the idea of life on other planets, check out the Related Media tab. Teachers can show the video, “Could We Actually Live On Mars” to start a discussion about how students would feel trying to adapt to life on a new planet. This video asks students questions like, "Would you be excited to move from Earth to Mars? Why or why not? What challenges would you face? Do you think Harper from ‘Into the Wind’ faces any of the same challenges that you would face if you moved to Mars? What would they be?"

Pasta for Astronar” by Kurt Douglass (4th Grade)

In this entertaining short story, two boys come across a friendly alien who crash landed in their backyard. The boys, Kyle and Trent, help the alien get back home.

Conduct a class discussion to help students grapple with the central theme of helping a stranger. Teachers can use Discussion Question 3, “The boys are able to help Astronar when he shows up at their house. If a stranger like Astronar came to your door, would you help them? Why or why not?” to engage students with the same steps of problem-solving that the characters faced.

The Fog Test” by Pamela Love (4th Grade)

Another one of Pamela Love’s engaging science fiction stories, “The Fog Test” is set on a future Earth where people don’t experience weather. A young boy named Kris narrates his story of preparing for and taking a weather test that will prove he is ready to emigrate to a colony in space for a new adventure. Kris compares the weather to a cat to help himself learn how weather behaves as he studies for the test.

To help students understand why Kris compares the weather to a cat as he prepares for the weather test, provide students with a customized annotation prompt. When assigning the reading lesson, teachers can add directions with a specific prompt for annotating. Students can then use the digital annotation tool to highlight these comparisons, and add notes about how they help Kris understand weather. Then, have students use the annotations to answer Assessment Question 5: “Why does the narrator compare the weather to a cat throughout the story?”

Highlighted text selected in CommonLit lesson

Her Hands That Held The Stars” by Rebecca Birch (5th Grade)

Rebecca Birch is a fantasy and science fiction writer who has written children’s stories for Cricket Magazine. This short story is set in a future where the air is too polluted to see the sky. Despite this, the main character, Akeisha, is determined to see the stars.

This story provides a great opportunity for teachers to expand their students' knowledge with an investigation of air pollution across short fiction and informational texts. Pair this story with “Smog, Smog, Go Away… Don’t Come Back Another Day” in the Paired Text tab to challenge students to consider whether our world is in danger of becoming like the one Akeisha lives in.

Screenshot of Paired Texts section for "Her Hands That Held the Stars"

The Long Night” by Steve Vance (5th Grade)

This story is set in an alternate reality where everyone on the planet is supposed to go into hibernation. Bobby, a young boy, is unable to fall asleep and soon realizes that he is the only person who can protect his planet from attack.

Teachers can lead a discussion using Discussion Question 2 to connect this short fiction story to our own world. Have students discuss whole-group, “Science fiction writers often write stories because they want us to think about our own world and what we value. What do you think would happen if the Hibernation Instinct happened here? How would people react? How would you react?”

Smog City” by Chris Butler (5th Grade)

In this futuristic story set in a polluted world, a metal machine searches for a girl lost in acid rain. The story is narrated by the metal machine as it goes looking for the girl.

Teachers can show students the Related Media video “Air Pollution | Videos of Kids | Causes, Effects & Solutions” to connect the story to what happens in our own world. Then, ask students “According to the video, how does air pollution affect humans and the environment? How is this similar to how air pollution is described in 'Smog City'?"

In Search Of… Part 1” by Joan Lennon (5th Grade)

In Part 1 of this four-part series, a teenage girl named Tay leaves her parents’ underwater pod on a distant planet. Many years ago, her ancestors survived a spaceship disaster on the planet causing them to adapt to life there. As Tay sets off on her adventure, she must deal with the challenges of some surprising news that comes her way.

This series is a great way for students to track character development across a longer text. Teachers can provide students with a custom annotation prompt, and using the digital annotation feature, students can highlight and make note of Tay’s actions and emotions as she learns and grows throughout Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the story.

Next Steps

Looking for more texts about science for your elementary classroom? Check out our text sets for more collections of fascinating and futuristic stories!

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