R was 18 months old at the time of this activity
Mad About Rockets, Stars and Outer Space by Sarah Creese – Mad About Rockets, Stars and Outer Space is a fantastic nonfiction book about all things space. There are tons of facts, labelled diagrams, a search and find page and a clue and question page. You also get some bonus stickers with this book!
1. Outer Space Play Dough
I cooked up some outer space play dough and added tons of course and fine glitter to it (to my husband’s dismay!) to give it the look of a star-filled galaxy. The glitter also adds a textured feel to the extremely soft play dough. I invited R to enjoy this sensory activity by presenting the play dough in a metal cake tin with glow-in-the-dark stars and astronauts. To stimulate her senses further, I added vanilla to the dough. R had so much fun with this activity! During the play, we sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” together and she joyfully played for an hour!
To encourage language development, we practiced using the word star as R placed the starts into the dough. I pointed to and named each astronaut and R just listened as she is still unable to say this new vocabulary word. After the initial introduction to the play dough, I allowed her to play as she pleased with only a few interruptions from me that involved adding more language to her play.
I adapted the play dough recipe from Fairy Dust Teaching. Here’s how to make this awesome outer space play dough at home!
2 cups of water
Squirts of black and blue food colouring or liquid water colour (I used half a small bottle of blue food colouring and many large squirts of black liquid water colour)
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 tbsp of vanilla extract (for a beautifully scented dough)
2 cups of plain flour
1 tbsp cream of tartar
1 cup of salt
Mix liquid ingredients in a large pan. While heating liquids on medium-high heat, mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add dry ingredients to the heating liquids. Stir well to mix all the ingredients and the dough begins to thicken. Once the dough develops a sheen, take it off the heat and let it cool slightly (I rolled it out on a metal cookie sheet to cool more quickly) and then knead the dough well. The dough can be used again and again so long as it is stored in an air tight container or ziplock bag.
a. Creative Writing. Use the play dough sensory play as a starting point to encourage and older child to write a story. Have beginning writers illustrate their own stories and you can scribe for them.
b. Bake it Together. Involve the child in the play dough making process. Have him/her measure out the ingredients with you and practice mathematical skills. Allow the child to knead the dough with you and promote fine motor muscle development.
2. Bursting Sunshine
I put a swirl of yellow and red paint onto a circular piece of white card stock and covered it with plastic cling wrap. R smothered and squished the paint around with her hands and yes, even her feet! After she was done, I glued the sun down onto a square piece of paper and while the paint was still wet, I gave R a paint brush and I helped her add rays around the sun. We sang “Mr Golden Sun” while painting.
Lyrics to Mr. Golden Sun:
Oh Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun
Please shine down on me
Oh Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun
Hiding behind the tree
a. Make foam shapes (a sun, person and tree) to go along with the Mr. Golden Sun song in order to engage the child more. Also add actions to the lyrics. When teaching songs to young kids, adding actions and/or graphics to go along with the son,g helps to stimulate the motor and visual pathways of the brain (along with the auditory) and thus, makes the song more memorable for the child.
b. Explore books that show the theorized colours of the different planets. Create a whole solar system using this method of painting. Older children can gain more from the experience by also proportionally sizing their planets.
Guest Post by Becky at 3 Princesses and 1 Dude
3. Space Tunnel
Since I can’t possibly try out every single activity I have seen or thought up, I wanted to highlight some awesome ideas I had seen other moms do. This first one comes from a mom I connected with on Instagram! You can view Becky’s original post here. She created a fabulous space tunnel using a large cardboard box, battery operated fairy lights and plastic planets and rockets and her kids had an absolute blast in there!
a. Allow an older child to look at images of our solar system and help him/her correctly orient the planets within the cardboard box.
b. Perform a Puppet Play. Encourage the child to orally tell a story about being in outer space and have him/her use the plastic rockets and astronauts or homemade puppets to enhance the story.
Check out the rest of the Space Theme:
1. Bursting Sunshine in Space
2. Getting Lost in the Milky Way
3. Felt and Food Rockets
4. Spying Glowing, Bubbly Space
5. Bubble Rockets and Slimy Paper Mache
6. Balloon Rockets and Bouncing Planets
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