Whether your child is interested in science or science fiction, there are lots of activities that you can do as a family to explore the theme of “Outer Space,” from learning about the planets or stars or imagining what an alien would look like. Choose this Theme Day before a trip to an observatory, a camp out under the stars or any time your space loving child wants to explore the fascinating realm of the stars.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do.
A space related Children’s Song would be Twinkle Twinkle Little Star : http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/t068.html
Sing along and do the actions with younger children. Have older children guess what the theme will be based on the song.
Find David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from your favourite music provider and move around the room for some creative dance time to that space song or try “Major Tom” by Peter Schilling—try to find an English version .
For another Space song try “Space Truckin’” by Deep Purple.
For Science Fiction fans, your kids will probably really like “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” by Meco.
You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “space coloring pages” or print out my Rocket Coloring Page.
JOURNALING QUESTION PROMPT:
Write out one or more of the following questions in the family notebook or on a piece of paper: Can you name the 8 planets and 1 dwarf planet in our solar system? What planets can you name? Which planet do you like the best and why? Would you rather fly to the moon or to another planet and why? If you could name your own planet what name would you choose? What other things can you find in space?
Choose the level of your child:
Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer.
Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.
Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.
Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response. (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not).
Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).
As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story or poem about the planets, a space explorer or an alien.
Print out a Space Word Search:
Check here for the answer keys:
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any space related material.
Go to the library with your child to find some books about the planets or stars.
Go to the library on your own to find books with an outer space theme from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (Search for “Planets” or “stars” or “Space” under “Children’s Books). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Try to find some of these nonfiction/learning titles:
· The Planets, written by Cynthia Pratt Nicolson and illustrated by Bill Slavin, Kids Can Press, 1998—This is a great learning book with chapters on each planet and easy to read (although longer) text. It has illustrations and photographs and even some experiments./activities.
· Our Solar System, by Seymour Simon, Morrow Junior Books, 1992—This has easy to read text and beautiful large photographs .
· The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth From Space, by Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1994—With a focus on Earth and lots of different photographs this is an interesting book for older kids.
· Stargazer’s Alphabet: Night-sky Wonders from A to Z, by John Farrell, Boyds Mills press, 2007—With photographs of starts and planets, this is more than an alphabet book, , each page includes information and even highlights the constellations to better see their patterns.
Try to find some of these fun titles:
· Is There Life in Outer Space?, by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by Edward Miller, Harper Collins Publishers, 1999—From the Let’s Read and Find Out Science Book Series, this stage 1 book has both fun illustrations and real photographs to take about whether life has been found on any other planets besides Earth. It explores old beliefs and the possibility of life in other solar systems.
· The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System, by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen, scholastic Inc., 1990—Another adventure from the popular series has the eccentric Ms. Frizzle take her class to outer space in the magic school bus when the planetarium is closed. The little reports by the students in each page plus the carton dialogues and narrative teach and entertain at the same time.
· Our Stars, written and illustrated by Ann Rockwell, Silver Whistle Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999—With easy to read text, this book offers a simple introduction to stars, the sun and outer space.
· The Planets in Our Solar System, by Franklyn M Branley, Illustrated by Kevin O’Malley, Harper Collins Publishers, 1981— From the Let’s Read and Find Out Science Book Series, this stage 2 book discusses the nine (including Pluto) planets in our solar system.
· There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System, by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz, Random House, 1999—This is about the Dr. Suess character “The Cat in the Hat” exploring outer space.
SPACE STICKER COLLAGE OR SCENE:
Materials: Black or other coloured paper, stickers with a space theme (stars, planets, astronauts, rockets), markers and crayons.
Step 1: Give your child the stickers and paper and have him/her either make a scene or a collage with them.
Step 2 (Optional): See if your child wants to embellish the picture with markers or crayons by drawing decorations, designs or other pictures.
SPACE SHIP PICTURE:
Materials: Black and other coloured paper, child safe scissors, glue stick, damp cloth for sticky fingers, (Optional) markers or crayons.
HINT: You can either pre-cut the shapes for this craft ahead of time or work along with your child.
Step 1: Help your child cut out a circle out of white paper for the moon.
Step 2: Help your child cut out a rectangle (any colour) for the rocket’s base and a small triangle to fit on top of the triangle.
Step 3: Help your child cut out flame shapes out of orange paper for the rocket’s flames.
Step 4: Show your child how together these basic shapes can make a rocket ship picture and then let him/her glue them to the black paper.
Step 5: (Optional):Let your child embellish the picture with markers or crayons by drawing on the rocket or the moon.
HINT: You can change this craft into an “alien ship picture” by using other shapes (See my son’s picture on the right for an example). You can encourage great creativity with this craft by letting your child make stars or planets as well.
Materials: Coat hanger, thread/ yarn/ fishing string, coloured paper, child safe scissors, glue stick, damp cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Fold various pieces of coloured paper in half and have your child draw planets, stars, the sun, a rocket etc. on one side of the folded paper. Basic shapes work well. Circles make planets (you can give your child cups or coins to trace), a rectangle for the rocket ship, a crescent for the moon.
Step 2: Cut out the shapes for your younger child or have your older child do it himself/herself. Be sure to cut through the folded paper to make two of the same shape.
Step 3: Cut out various sized pieces of string or yarn.
Step 4: Have your child apply glue to one of each set of shapes and the tip of one piece of string over the glue. Put glue on matching shape and place on top of the string/other shape. NOTE: If you forgot to cut out two sets of each shape then use a hole punch to thread string through instead of gluing between paper.
Step 5: Tie the other end of each string to a coat hanger.
Step 6: (Optional) You can have your child decorate the cut outs either before or after the mobile is made with markers and crayons (or to be even fancier with glitter and white glue or glitter glue).
Serve some milk in honour of the Milky Way!
Planet Fruit Salad:
Ingredients: Cantaloupe or other melons, raspberries or cherries, star fruit (Optional), yogurt (Optional), wheat Germ (Optional)
Step 1: Using a melon baller, scoop out melon balls as planets.
Step 2: Everyone gets their own bowl. Scoop in some yogurt (if desired) as the milky way. (Or use ice cream if you are making this as a dessert).
Step 3: Have children scatter melon planets and berries asteroids over yogurt.
Step 4 (Optional): Sprinkle wheat germ stars on top.
Some museums and science stores sell “Astronaut Food” (or freeze-dried foods) If you can find any try that for this Theme Day.
Star Sandwiches: Use a star shaped cookie-cutter to cut your bread slices into stars and put your child’s favourite fillings between the star slices.
Star Shaped Pasta: See if you can find some star shaped pasta or circular wheels for planets for a stellar dinner!
MNEMONIC MEMORY SENTENCE for the order of the planets:
Using books or the internet to help you, make up your own family mnemonic sentence to remember the order of the planets or simply make up a poem starting each line with each letter (for M, V, E, M, J, S, U, N: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune). NOTE: I didn’t forget Pluto...it’s now considered a dwarf planet.
You can make a large decorated poster of this sentence or write it in your Family Theme Day Notebook/Scrapbook (encourage children to write according to their abilities, i.e. either write it all, or write one word every so often with or without help).
If your family has a telescope use it one night to spot the closer planets—Mercury, Venus—or to study the moon.
Have your family gather around the computer and check out some of the following websites:
All About the Planets – includes images and interesting multi-media videos for interactive learning: http://www.space.com/planets/
Welcome to the Planets – has pictures from NASA's planetary exploration program and information on each picture as well - http://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/
The Nine (8) Planets for Kids – elementary school ages site with simple information on the planets - http://kids.nineplanets.org/
Exploring the Planets – from Smithsonian Air and Space Museum - http://www.nasm.si.edu/etp/
Solar System Exploration - From NASA - http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/ OR http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/StarChild.html
A special thanks to Science Club Member Danielle from Colorado for suggesting this site about the sun: http://www.mjjsales.com/articles/the-fun-facts-about-the-sun.html
Pass the Planets:
Materials: an assortment of balls (various sizes)
Directions: This is just a silly activity that can be used to teach the vocabulary word: orbit. Everyone sits in a circle and then you pass the balls around to each other. Start slow and go faster and faster to make your planets orbit. Try to call out all the names of the planets as a review as you pass the balls as well.
Q: What chocolate bar do you eat in space?
A: Mars Bar
Q: What dishes are used in outer space?
A: Flying saucers
Q: Where do you park y our car on another planet?
A: at a parking meteor
Q: How do you get a baby to fall asleep in outer space?
A: you rocket.
Q: When do astronauts like to eat?
A: Launch time
Q: What sort of star is dangerous?
A: A shooting star.
If you have a child who likes arts and crafts have your child draw a picture for his/her favourite joke.
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows with a space theme, for instance try The Backyardigans: Mission To Mars, or Baby Einstein: Baby Galileo – Discovering the Sky.
For older children you can rent movies with a space theme or setting like the cartoon Treasure Planet or films like Star Wars.
See if you can find a constellation chart from your library and bundle up one night as a family with chart in hand to see which constellations you can find. Go to an open area with very little surrounding lights for the best viewing.
Blast off for fun!