R was 18 months old at the time of this activity
The Planets in Our Solar System by Franklyn M. Branley – The vibrant illustrations kept R engaged while I read this long book. Along with the many facts about the solar system, there is a description of how to make a solar system mobile, a planetary distance activity and a variety of other activity ideas.
1. Milky Way Marble Run
R thought this activity was hilarious. She enjoyed placing the marble down on the board and watching it roll around while shouting “wooo”. Sometimes she just dropped the marble into the centre and would look up at me with a mischievous grin. I kept the board up on both of our legs and showed R how to rock the board back and forth to make the marble move.
I made the marble run by putting circular hot glue lines onto cardboard and covering the entire surface with aluminum foil before painting it. I used my black and white paint dabbers to paint the surface and added yellow paint spots to represent stars. I cut a hole in the centre so that it could be the target for the marble run.
a. Instead of using hot glue, the marble run track can be made with small cut up pieces of straw that get taped down. This way, a child can be involved in the constructing process without worry of using a hot glue gun. Before starting the construction phase, show the child photos of the milky way galaxy, a sample of a marble run using straws, a demonstration of how to tape down the straws (add a strip of tape over the straw) and allow the child to problem solve how to align the straws into a circular arrangement so that the marble can find its way all the way into the hole.
2. Lost in a Black Hole
Stumbling over me, R shouted “wow” as she grabbed the shooting starts and meteors I had set out for her. I asked her to sit patiently while I positioned the black hole. Of course, that’s not an option for an excited toddler! This activity was used to encourage R to throw forward, though she also threw backwards, sideways and up into the air.
I cut a hole into a square piece of cardboard and painted the surface using blue Crayola kid’s paint, streaks of black ink from an ink pad and squirts of Perfect Pearls spray. I made meteors by wrapping two plastic balls in foil (so that less foil could be used) and adding some details with black paint. The shooting stars were made with two star-shaped felt pieces glued together and stuffed with rice. I added ribbon for embellishment. I don’t have a sewing machine, so I used liquid stitch glue to seal up the two felt pieces together.
a. Have the child slowly move further and further back as s/he attempts to toss the shooting stars and meteors into the black hole.
b. Add to the challenge by placing the black hole at different heights before tossing the space objects.
c. If playing with more than one child, allow the children to play cooperatively. Use a timer and have the kids work together to get the space objects into the black hole before the timer goes off.
Guest Post by Putri Dina at Dinamartalinova
3. Ordering Planets
Today’s guest post comes from one of my Instagram mommy friends. You can see the original post here. For this activity, she had her son order planets onto straws stuck into styrofoam blocks that were labeled with the ordinal numbers based on their distance from the sun. As AA placed the planets onto the straws, his mom named the planets for him. He enjoyed the activity so much that he was at it for 30 mins and still wanted to play more for days after it was introduced.
a. Imaginative Play. Once completing his task, AA began to play imaginatively with the planets on the straws. He blew at the planets as if they were candles on a birthday cake. He and his mom sang “Happy Birthday” together and a song called “Let’s Blow the Candle” which is a song in their first language. Purti Dina especially enjoyed it when her son pretended to lick the planets as if they were lollipops and announced, “Mama, Here is Saturn lollipop”!
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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