We had a blast learning a little about space these past two weeks! Here’s all the fun we had for weeks 47 & 48!
We started off our Space theme with a Focus Board containing the letter P (Planet, Pluto, Purple), the Number 9, a Star shape, and the color Purple. We did our best to incorporate these items throughout our activities for weeks 47 & 48.
Our books for our Space themed weeks included Hello, World! Solar System by Jill Mc Donald and Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed. We have used a Hello, World! book before for our previous Weather theme, and I plan on using other titles in the this series as well. Grace has loved these books, and really engages with them. They are brightly colored and beautifully illustrated, and there are some really great facts throughout. Pluto has it’s own page but is referred to as a dwarf planet for anyone who is wondering. By the end of our Space themed weeks, Grace could point out a rocket ship, telescope, constellation, planets, and a comet (she could already identify the moon, sun, and stars) thanks to this book. Mae Among the Stars is a pretty stellar (pun intended) children’s book about the first African American female Astronaut to go to space. The mantra throughout this book is “if you can dream it, if you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible” and deals more with the early life of little Mae and her aspirations to become an astronaut despite being discouraged by other kids and adults. At the end there is also a brief biographical page about Dr. Mae Jemison. I think the story may have went over Grace’s head somewhat, but she loved pointing out Mae as an astronaut, a telescope, and recognized when Mae was sad. It’s definitely a book we will revisit at some point.
Our media choices for weeks 47 & 48 included Story Bots’ The Letter P, The Number 9, We are the Planets, I’m so Hot (Sun), Time to Shine (Moon), A Beautiful, Beautiful World (Earth), and I’m a Star. We also listened to Barefoot Books’ Space Song Rocket Ride and Pinkfong’s Round and Round Space Song. Grace loved singing along to Sesame Street’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with Julia & Elmo as well as their Outer Space ABC’s. We also jammed out to Pancake Manor’s Purple song at home and in the car throughout our Space theme…thanks to this song, Grace is starting to spell out Purple!
We did not have our typical discovery bin for our Space themed weeks, but in it’s place Grace was able to play with a solar system sensory bin multiple times throughout our Space unit. We filled a small storage bin (I happened to have a purple one for our focus color) with black beans, and added glow in the dark stars, planets (we found a set on Amazon for around $6), a yellow ball for the sun, and a rocket ship & astronaut erasers we scored in the valentine section of our local dollar store. I also gave Grace some fine motor tools that she could use to pick things up and maneuver around. Grace loved this bin, and asked for it constantly! She’s such a sorter and loved being able to sort all the like items together and really enjoyed figuring out how to use the fine motor tools to pick up the beans. She also liked to bury items in the beans and then go digging for them. We counted the planets (our set included 9) for our focus number and would name the different items in the bin. Hearing her say “astronaut” is pretty cute even though I may be the only one that can actually decipher what she’s saying. Ha!
Our next activity for weeks 47 & 48 of Tot School was an Everyday a Little Grace design that Grace and I are in love with! Grace turned 2 back in December, and while there are some pretty great planets of the solar system resources out there, most of them match planets to names, and I knew this was not going to work for us at this time. So I created a game that works on skills we are currently invested in…number matching and identification. Grace is learning to count and recognize numbers, so I created a simple number matching game based on our Solar System. The idea here is for Grace to match up the numbers for each planet. Pluto is included here as our focus number is 9.
Amazingly, with very little help from Mommy, she did just that, and then did it over and over again. She knows more than I give her credit for! She loved this game enough to ask to play multiple times throughout our Space themed weeks, and since I laminated the game, it will now reside in our Numbers busy bag for future use! The planet names are listed as well, even though the focus for this printable is numbers.
We had some gross motor fun for our next activity! Grace tossed around some “Moon Rocks” like a champ! By far one of the easiest activities we’ve ever done, yet Grace could hardly contain her excitement throughout. All I did was place an empty laundry basket on our hearth in the living room and crumpled up aluminum foil forming them into balls. I set out a basket full of our tin foil “moon rocks” and told Grace to throw them in the basket.
She loved trying to make it in the basket, and eventually just walked right up to the basket to toss the “moon rocks” in, then would carry the basket back to where she started, empty it out, place the laundry basket back on the hearth, and start again. Guess how many “moon rocks” we had? That’s right…9…for our focus number!
Our next activity was another Everyday a Little Grace design for our Space themed plans in our Etsy Shop. Grace loves making sure the activities Mommy creates work! I designed this play dough mat with little fingers in mind.
Grace made craters by pressing her fingers into play dough moons. Another super simple activity, and Grace loved making craters. We used two different shades of purple play dough for our focus color, and there are also nine stars we counted on the printable for our focus number.
Grace made a “P” constellation for our next activity. I traced our focus letter on black card stock with a piece of white chalk, then grabbed a sheet of star shaped stickers we already had in our stash. Grace can identify constellations from one of our books for our Space them, so I told her we were making a constellation, and to place the stickers along the P.
Grace did such a good job…I was actually surprised. I did not expect her to put as many stickers as she did along the outline. Afterwards we hung it on the fridge, and Grace would point to her constellation from time to time and say “P”! Yay for letter recognition!
Our last activity for our Space themed weeks was a first for us, and it was awesome! We had our first invitation to play. Have you heard of these before? Search for the term “invitation to play” on Pinterest and you will find loads of different ideas out there, and a lot of times, play dough is used as a base. The idea here is to provide different types of items to go along with a particular theme, and let your little one explore those items and tinker and build their own little world.
Ya’ll…this little girl was serious for this activity and yet so excited at the same time. I did help her roll out the play dough. I suggested she role out the play dough (by the way I combined blue and purple play dough as the galaxy base) and she tried really hard to do so, but ultimately I rolled it out for her at her insistence. From there Grace added this and that until she had built her own little galaxy. Such a cool activity to watch unfold and see the choices she made all on her own. I do believe that having this activity at the end of our unit really inspired Grace to use all that she had learned to create the small world she did, and if we had done this towards the beginning it may have looked entirely different. I may have to test that theory one day and compare what an invitation to play looks like in the beginning of a theme versus the end.
Our Space themed weeks may have been one of this Mama’s favorite themes so far. Grace was really engaged throughout both weeks as well, and she still asks to read the Solar System book. There are also so many more activities we could have done for our Space theme that I can’t wait to explore more about Space with Grace in the future. 🚀
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