Books About Space

Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle is often not read in classrooms simply because of a depiction of a naked man and woman. It’s not what most parents expect to find in an Eric Carle book but it is very fitting in this beautiful and really touching book. The story although very similar to a biblical creation story isn’t necessarily reflective only of a christian view point , rather as I read it is was the author’s own creation. It begins and ends with a star , and hits all the right points in between.


Comets by Melanie Chrismer surprised me. This little book was not only full of facts about comets but it also kept my son’s attention from cover to cover. The facts are simple, and presented in small bits with illustrations . The straightforward approach was perfect to support an introductory activity about comets.

On the Launch Pad: A Counting Book About Rockets by Michael Dahl was a great find, my son loved counting down from 12-1 with the bright illustrations , simple text and hidden numbers on each page. Something that seems simple but was really awesome was that each page had the number written as a word, shown as a digit and as dots to count. You can take the time to count each dot, read the word or simply recognize the digit!


How to Catch a Star
by Oliver Jeffers is a sweet story about a little boy who wants a star of his own. I loved the bright and simplistic illustrations and the message about holding on to your dreams, working for them and figuring out that sometimes things come to you in packages you don’t expect! Great book!


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”.

Our Stars by Anne Rockwell is another wonderful non fiction book from this author illustrator. The book shares the most basic facts about stars with the reader as well as more complicated facts about constellations, comets and meteors. I love that the facts are shared pretty independently on each page, so if something is above your toddlers head you can simply skip that page, until they are . The illustrations are fun enough to grab attention but detailed enough to help explain the facts being presented.

Sandpaper Sun

There are so many opportunities  for playing with textures with every day art supplies but rough is one that doesn’t come as easy, but it’s not impossible. Sandpaper is really fun to use for all sorts of things. Just remember that when you do a sensory art project that you need to be prepared for mess since the whole point is to touch and feel! My son had so much fun ( by fun I mean made a huge mess)with this that we ended up in the bath immediately after.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 2 sheets of sandpaper, some yellow and/or orange paint, a marker,  a paint brush , scissors and glue.sandpaper sun craft
  2. Draw a circle on one of the sheets. sandpaper sun craft
  3. Cut the circle out, leave the other sheet whole, you will cut the rays into triangles later. sandpaper sun craft
  4. Start by letting your child feel the sand paper, some kids will recoil from it, some will love the texture and explore it with their finger tips and nails for a long time.sandpaper sun craft
  5. Next get the paint ready we wanted to use both colors since we were looking at pictures of the sun and I quote ” It’s not all yellow like I thought mommy!” so both colors were poured into a container for this project.sandpaper sun craft
  6. Start painting the circle.  We started with a brush and the sound the bristles made were really interesting. However I didn’t even have time to get a photo of him using a brush on the circle, he went straight for finger painting.sandpaper sun craft
  7. Next he compared the rough paper to his  smooth hands. sandpaper sun craft
  8. Pass them the full sheet when they are ready.sandpaper sun craft
  9. Remember that when you encourage finger painting, often a mess will follow, this is why you always use washable paint. These were not the only two hand prints on my table or his body, just the prettiest. sandpaper sun craft
  10. Set the circle and other sheet up to dry and get in the bath.
  11. When dry ( ours took forever cause we had globs). Cut out the rays. If your child is willing have them cut, my son wanted NO part of cutting the sandpaper and I admit , I don’t enjoy cutting it either. I had shivers the whole time.sandpaper sun craft
  12. Add glue to the back of the circle.sandpaper sun craft
  13. Add your rays and let dry.sandpaper sun craft

Other Activities About Texture:

Sense of Touch Game

Texture Collage

Sand Art

Playdough Earth

playdoh earth
This post from contributing writer Katy is great  for toddlers and preschoolers of any ability but especially geared towards children who are resistant to textures, either because of having special needs or simply being resistant to new sensations. Having a purpose to make something like the earth makes an exercise in textures more authentic instead of simply touching something squishy. I love it!
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Before I do any craft with Charlie, I get all of my supplies ready to go. For this project I rolled three large balls of blue craft clay and then several small balls of green craft clay.Play-doh Earths
I placed a ball of blue clay in Charlie hands and then took a piece of green and helped him smash it into the blue. play-doh earth
We did this several times for each ball creating something that looks a lot like Earth.play doh earth
Charlie, like many kids with special needs, can be resistant to new textures.  He did not like the feel of the clay, but we kept at it for a as long as we could. I had wanted to create a total of four Earths, but we stopped at three in order to prevent a meltdown.  It’s good to push your child, but not so far that they become resistant to all new activities.
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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.

Letter of The Week – Earth Day

Earth e !

Earth Day Craft

Earth Day is coming up so to extend our learning about the earth into our regular letter of the week craft we made an earth e today. My son loves this paint roller and for a craft like this where you cover over crayon it was the perfect painting tool.  I couldn’t narrow down my books to just 3 today, they range from toddler to school age so there is something for everyone.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white construction paper ( or paper plate), another sheet for the backing, a blue crayon, a black marker, green ( or yellow and blue) paint,scissors , glue,  a dish and a paint brush or roller. Earth Day Craft
  2. Start by writing a lowercase e on your white paper. If you are me fail miserably, try again on the other side ( yes this is a picture of my better e). Still mess it up. Earth Day Craft
  3. Grab a paper plate because that was your last sheet of white construction paper, make a stencil and trace it on the paper plate. Earth Day Craft
  4. Give your child the blue crayon and explain that this e is the Earth ( show them pictures of the earth if need be to explain how the blue is the ocean and the green is the land).  Have them draw some ocean- make sure they press hard. Earth Day Craft
  5. Time to pour paint Earth Day Craft
  6. Now mix it. I prefer to do this than use the regular green if possible. It’s some extra fun and extra learning. Earth Day Craft
  7. Roll it on! Earth Day Craft
  8. Let dry and cut out.  earth day craft
  9. Glue on your backing paper. Earth Day Craft

For more letter of the week crafts check out my eBook Alphabet Crafts !  From A-Z you will be learning and creating with your child .

Books

in the garden

In the Gardenby Leslie Bockol is a little board book all about growing your own fruits and vegetables in your garden. It is simple and although it’s listed for 3-6 year olds I would read it to 1-3 year olds. It identifies a number of fruits and vegetables and completes each page with ” I pick it and eat it!” my son loved the repetition and quickly completed each page for me while I was reading it to him. I think it’s a perfect book for toddlers and young preschoolers to introduce gardening to them.

The Whole Green World

The Whole Green World by Tony Johnston was an unexpected hit with my son.  Today reading it he learned that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, he saw the book in our pile to read and wasn’t taken with it, but I suggested maybe just reading the first page and he was hooked. The book is really about appreciating the whole world, from the view point of a little girl who grabs some seeds, plants them , waters them and savors the beauty all around her. My son loved the sing song text and the ultra detailed illustrations by Elisa Kleven. Which my son would study with every turn of the page asking me ” Mommy which bird, which book, which cake is your favorite?” making reference to the illustrations . It was a wonderful book to snuggle up with !

Herman and Marguerite

Herman and Marguerite: An Earth Story by Jay O’Callahan is a funny story with interesting and sometimes unexpected illustrations. The story is about a worm who has heard about the orchard above and wants to see it, but the sun is threatening and he is saved by a caterpillar! They develop a friendship and because of it the orchard that was once barren starts  attracting  animals again.  It’s not all easy along the way and the worm gets to return the favor of saving the caterpillar when she gets stuck between rocks on her way to spin her chrysalis. When she emerges as a butterfly her worm friend is there and so is a beautiful flowering apple orchard!   My son liked this book , I found it somewhat disjointed and what we both thought was odd was the random inclusion of photos of the author throughout the book. “Who is that weird guy Mama?” I wasn’t sure how to answer that one. Still he sat for the whole thing, and learned just how important worms are. It won’t be renewed over and over from the library though.

EcoMazes

EcoMazes by Roxie Munro is a new book that was sent to me by the publisher for review. The idea of this book is to showcase different ecosystems like wetlands, the tundra, desert and more through both a maze and search and find game. This book is not designed for preschoolers although my son loves it. We do the maze together as that is far too complicated for him, but he loves to find the animals on each page and has learned a lot about them too. What is awesome for older children ( 7-10) is that along with an answer key to the maze and pictures there is a full page of information about each ecosystem in the back of the book. This doesn’t talk down to the reader and gives great information using sophisticated vocabulary. I am excited to see how this book’s use changes over time in my home.

Big Kid Projects

One of my most frequently requested projects are ones for “Big Kids” no real age is ever given since Big is really relative but here are my projects that I have done with Sunday school, after school students and other “Big Kids” over the years. Some of these could be done with a young child with varying degrees of help and mess!

Recycled UFO

(seen above)

Sun Print

Milk Plug Ring

Masterpiece Magnet

Salt Art

All of these projects can be found under the “Ages 8 and Older” category. Looking for more big kid projects? Try the “Age 5 and Older” tab too! I try to add more of these projects in the summer when big kids are home from school, but now that I know they are in high demand- I’ll add them more frequently!