Paper Plate Planet

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Make some shapes out of the foam.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 .
  6. 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.

Salt Map of The Earth

by Katy

This activity is messy, but not at all difficult and can easily be adapted for different ages. If your child has sensory issues, it can also be an opportunity to work on breaking down some of those barriers as well.

For this project you will need the following:

1. A piece of stiff cardboard, foam, or poster board
2. Salt ( 3/4 a cup)
3. Flour (1/4 cup)
4. Water
5. 1 tsp. cream of tartar (optional)
6. Print out of the Earth
7. Food coloring (optional)

First, glue your print out of the earth onto your piece of poster board. I ran out of poster board, so I used the top of a gift box, which worked great. My print out is a little sad, but Charlie’s not picky, so we jut went with it.

The next step is to make your map paste. Combine the salt and flour and cream of tartar in a bowl and then slowly add water until you have a paste-like substance. The cream of tartar is supposed to help with the consistency, but if you don’t have any, you’ll just have a chunkier paste. Add drops of food coloring if you’d like your map to have a color other than white–we used green.

Take your paste and then spread it over the land areas of your map. You can be as precise as you like depending on the age of your child. Charlie was about three when we did this, so we were just glopping the paste onto the land parts of our map. As I’ve mentioned in the past, he also has some sensory issues (which are improving!), so he wasn’t thrilled about touching the paste. I ended up being the paster for the most part. If your child doesn’t mind, encourage them to create mountains, valleys, and maybe a river channel. For older children, you can find a topographic map and encourage them to match it as much as possible. 

Allow the paste to air dry and you’ll have a three-dimensional map. After it was dry, Charlie loved his map and spent a lot of time checking it out (some with his mouth I will confess). Might not have been exactly what I envisioned, but if he enjoys it, then who am I to judge?

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Katy is a mom of one ( with two on the way) who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

DIY Light Box

by Katy

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.

You will need a print out of planet earth. I Googled “earth” and found one easily. You will also need tape, an empty soda box (or similar), a flashlight, a pen, a pair of scissors, and a knife.

First you need to cut off one of the long sides of the soda box.

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.

Next, take your pen and poke holes in the box all around the earth cut out.

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.

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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.

Puffy Paint Earth Day Craft

easy earth day craft for kids

My plan was to make Saturn and start teaching my son about space but he asked if he could make planet Earth so I grabbed the shaving cream and this easy Earth Day craft is what we ended up making. What a hit! It’s so simple even young toddlers ( provided they are past the eating everything stage) could do this with minimal adult help. Saturn will get made sometime soon , he had so much fun making our planet and we still got to talk and learn about space.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some shaving cream, white glue, green paint,scissors, a marker, blue paper, a spoon, and container or bowl.
  2. Start by mixing your paint. You will need 3 parts shaving cream to 1 part white glue, and green paint . Use as much green paint as you need to get the color you want.
  3. While they mix it up, draw a circle on your blue paper.
  4. Paint. It might get messy but it will definitely be fun! 
  5. My son preferred to scoop the paint on to his hand and slap it down. 
  6. While the paint was drying my son used the extra paint to make another painting !
  7. Let dry and cut out. The paint will dry puffy !

Books About Space !