Stars , space and rockets are a theme that has never really lost it’s luster at our house. My son who is 5 1/2 is not as keen on sensory tubs as he once was ( or so I thought) so I set this one up with a little reading and matching activity. If I was doing this for younger kids I would have a few rocket ships and a few cups for pouring and transferring and skip the matching activity completely. As it turned out I misjudged my son and you will see that even at 5 1/2 that simple is wonderful.It’s great for space themes, learning about shapes and even fine motor practice!
- Gather your materials. For the sensory tub you will need dried black beans, bright star buttons and some tools like spoons and containers to dig and pour. For the matching activity I also used a chocolate box liner, some paper, scissors and marker.
- Pour the beans and the buttons in. You could add sparkles but you will never be able to use the beans for another non sparkly tub again and cleaning it off the buttons if you want will be impossible. I like to re-use my sensory tub innards so we kept it simple.
- If you want to make the matching container you can do it a few ways. For my son I wrote the words including light and dark blue and hot pink because we’ve been talking about different shades of colors. For pre readers simply use a marker in each color to write the word.
- Other than setting up I just let him go. He read all the words to start.
- Then got down to business sorting and matching. Don’t be surprised if they start counting while they sort. Everything is a competition at our house right now and so as he was sorting he was keeping me updated to which color was in the lead.
- After he’d had enough he filled the extra squares with beans using his hands , then grabbed a spoon, dumped the buttons out and and started carefully scooping the into the little squares one by one.
- Then we got a big container and filled it ( with the pot from our play kitchen) so his little sister could enjoy the stars too. She loves rolling it around and how loud it is when she does.
So even though I had a more directed activity ready I am thrilled he used it as a start but then directed the rest himself. I am just glad we had all the tools he needed.
Space is such a fun theme to use for play, crafts and of course learning. Here are some of our favorite space themed crafts that we have done over the years. We have lots of space themed books too.
Make Your Own Constellation
Puffy Paint Moon
Hand Print Sun
Soft and Shiny Rocket
Paper Plate Planet
Sponge Painted Stars
Click the image for detailed reviews of the space books.
Creating your very own planet can be a quick art project or a much more involved one with reading and writing too. This simple project combines so many lessons including shapes, space, as well as writing and spelling. Oh and for those of you afraid of mess , especially glitter mess – stick on glitter foam was made for you. It’s all the bling with none of the mess.
- Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate, various shapes of peel and stick glitter foam ( I pre cut a whole bunch for easy projects), markers, a piece of plain old paper, pencil, and tape.
- Make some shapes out of the foam.
- Start by creating your planet with the foam and markers. My thought when I brainstormed this activity was that my son would make a mosaic like planet with all the pieces. Instead as he was making it he was deciding what each piece of foam would be . Rivers, lakes, a pit of lava, and an dark and scary forest were all added among other things.
- While they create the look of the planet write out a short questionnaire for them to fill in about their planet. I asked 3 simple questions , keeping it short to entice him to write the answers himself. The questions included naming the planet, how many moons it has and how long it takes to get to the planet from Earth.
- It worked he was excited to try ,he asked me to write the words after. Do not correct your child if they are at the beginning stages of writing especially if they are at all reluctant. Correcting them can be seen as a further proof that writing is too hard and their attempts may become fewer and further between, which is not what we want! If they ask for you to help jump in slowly .
- Tape the information on the inside . When he showed it off to his dad at dinner, he read the inside and said ” I didn’t write Cybertron, it was too long and I didn’t have enough room, but I did the numbers!” Oops, next time I will make the writing area even bigger, to make it more welcoming for big emergent writer handwriting.
Books About Space
If You Decide To Go To The Moon by Faith McNulty was not what I expected, but what is that they say about judging a book by it’s cover? Yeah. I enjoyed the book but it was really long, even I was sorta wondering ” How much more?” half way through. However when I finished the book I was glad I read it all and the huge amount of information inside. The book is truly packed with information about space travel and the environment on the moon, for 3-4 year olds I would read it in parts, perhaps throughout the same day but I don’t think many would sit with full attention for this whole book. Older kids should have no problem especially if they are interested in space. Older children will also appreciate the message that we need to keep Earth healthy so our planet remains vibrant and full of life and not cold, dusty and still like the moon.
Another Day in the Milky Way by David Milgrim made me giggle. The story is about a little boy who is stranded on a weird planet where things are very strange and he doesn’t know how to get home. It’s never scary because it’s simply too weird to ever get scary. People with too many arms, donkeys and chickens dressed as horses and finally the realization that it’s all a dream. The humor was rather dry although kids will probably take it as goofy . My favorite part was the little alien dog that transforms into a regular one in the end of the book when the little boy wakes up.
A Is for Astronaut: Exploring Space from A to Z by Traci N. Todd is a typical themed alphabet book that is atypically funky. The vintage illustrations and historical photos from NASA makes this book stand out from other similar books. Each letter represents a number of space related items and the historical photos are so powerful in this because it bridges the gap from being a story to being information that children are eager to dive into further. There is something so powerful about a photograph to make that connection that this really happened, these guys really walked on the moon in ” the olden days” as my son calls any time before his birth in 2006.
Aliens are super cool and combining a craft with pretend play is even cooler. We love dress up at our house ( and preschool) and this alien headband craft was created to use as a pretend play prop. I suggested my son glue eyes on the band but he was very adamant that they needed to be up high on antennae. Even though I have directions you can follow this is the sort of craft that is best used as inspiration for your own unique creation.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper, paint, glue, sparkly pipe cleaners, sticky back sparkly foam, googly eyes, tape and glitter!
- Start by having your child paint the paper. This will be cut in two strips to make the headband. Tell your child you will be cutting it, this can really upset young kids if they aren’t warned. I like using either a foam paint brush or paint markers like these when we want the paint to dry fast.
- While they paint, trace a circle 6 times on the backing of the sparkly foam.
- Cut out.
- Glue the googly eyes on. Let dry.
- Next cut the paper in half.
- Add glue and glitter. You want to do it after your cut not before so that you aren’t cutting into glue and glitter. Trust me glitter is messy enough, but cleaning it out of scissors is no fun. Let dry.
- Cut your pipe cleaners into different heights.
- When eyes are dry ( or at least dry enough not to slide, peel off the backing of the 3 foam circles that do not have googly eyes on them. Press the pipe cleaners into them.
- Peel the back off the circles with eyes , press into the circles with the pipe cleaners so they are sandwiched.
- When the glitter is dry tape the pipe cleaners with eyes on the front of one strip. You will want it near the end because you are going to tape the other strip on top to sandwich them.
- Size it to your child’s noggin’ and secure the two ends with tape. I like using tape for 2 reasons. It’s forgiving and it’s fast, so kids can play right away.
The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers is a moving story about a boy , a martian and the moon they were both stuck on. Together they figure out a way to get back home even though they are so sad to say goodbye to each other. I love this author, I love his illustrations as well, they are so unique and the emotion he manages to convey is amazing. There is an illustration of the boy and martian standing awkwardly before they have to say goodbye and it embodies the emotion. Grab anything written by this author and you will be happy!
Hush, Little Alien by Daniel Kirk is a quirky updated version of the classic lullaby. So many bedtime books are super sugary but this one is funky and bright! I love the space theme and the illustrations are great! The rhymes are funny and kept my son interested in the lullaby much longer than the traditional one which he deems a “baby song”.
Moon Man by Tomi Ungerer is an odd, heartwarming, entertaining story. My son loves this story about the man on the moon who wants to be a part of the action on earth and decides to visit himself. Of course as is the custom on earth we are afraid of outsiders and he is thrown in jail. Luckily as he goes through the phases he manages to slip out through the bars.He finds someone to help him return home where he belongs, even though he is sad to go. I couldn’t help but think of ET… but that’s just me.
Whenever I’m thinking up posts to write for No Time for Flash Cards, I try to think of things that are good for special needs kids, but can be fun for any kid. When I saw Allie was doing an earth craft with her son the other day, I knew I should share this light box activity.
Kids with low vision are often given a chance to “practice” using their eyes in a nice calm environment. Light boxes are a great way to do this, but hoo-wee are they expensive. Like always, I developed this method to make one on the cheap.
On the opposite side of the box, in the center, you will want to cut out a hole that is slightly smaller than your earth picture. To cut the hole, I used my knife to get it started and then finished with a pair of scissors.
Then tape your earth picture to the outside of the box, with the earth picture facing in.
Take you box into a dark room and place the flashlight behind the earth. If you’ve got a strong flashlight like I did, it might help to dim it a little with a paper towel.
And there you go–the most-magical Diet Coke box I’ve ever seen. This could easily be adapted for other planets or even the entire solar system if you were feeling up to it.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.