Saturday, September 10, 2016

Outer Space Week (A Simple Summer Theme)

It's hard to imagine that we've already been into the routine of school a few weeks and that these Simple Summer Themes are slipping far behind us.

We were so excited about Outer Space Week, that when the first week was cut short the boys asked me if we could do more - and we extended it to a second week.

The boys are always thrilled to explore activities and projects around Outer Space. They love to play astronaut in the back yard and read books from our outer space book collection. A few years ago we had a blast with Big Brother's Outer Space Birthday Party, and we were able to use a lot of those activities again.  
1. Cardboard Rocket Ship
To have a proper Outer Space Week you have to have a cardboard rocket ship. (Okay, maybe not really, but it's still fun to pretend.) We had Daddy bring home a large box from work and reshaped one end of the top flaps to look like a roof. Once we had taped the box together I sprayed the box with silver spray paint and when it was dry the boys and I decorated it inside and out. 

2. Paper Bag Space Helmets
We've already shared once about this easy, go-to project for space lovers. Use recycled paper bags, markers and stickers to create the perfect homemade astronaut accessory. Be prepared for lots of kid movement and imaginative play after they make them!

3. Ready, Jet, Go!
The boys have been a huge fan of the new PBS show "Ready, Jet, Go!" this summer. This kid show is not only engaging but informative too, both boys quote newly learned facts to me from the show all the time.

4. Explore Moon Craters
This is a great activity for exploring how craters are made on the moon. We paired the activity with a couple of different books on the moon, which we read first. We looked at the crater pictures in the books and talked about how they were made. 
I then gave the boys a shallow pan filled with all purpose flour. In the pan there were also several marbles (we used both small and large marbles.) The boys practiced dropping the marbles into the pan and then inspecting the "craters" made by the marbles. When they were ready to do more they used a whisk to flatten back out the pan. 

5. Astronaut Training Course
This activity was a huge hit a few years ago at Big Brother's Birthday, and again when we did it this summer. For this summer we created a few new materials - an Astronaut Training Checklist and Astronaut ID Cards. For our astronaut training session we used materials we already had on hand, such as jump ropes, a tunnel, balls, etc. Once the boys went through the Astronaut Training Course, they created their ID cards. 

6. Read Outer Space Books 
I have collected quite a few Outer Space Books over the years between our home and my classroom libraries. The boys loved pouring over all the books, and it was a great way to encourage them to take a quiet moment. Don't have the books at home? Borrow a handful of Outer Space books from the library. I am sure they have several. 

7. Constellation Pictures
We dipped in to the books we had on hand to explore a little more about constellations. The boys especially enjoyed learning about the Big Dipper, as now they can try and find it in the sky. Once we were done reading the books the kids used black construction paper, metallic crayons, and star stickers to create their own constellations. 

8. Oreo Moon Cycle
I've seen this on Facebook and Pinterest several times, and always wanted to try the project. It made for a great whole family activity after dinner one night. First we read the book and learned about why the moon appears to change shape. We then worked in two teams (Daddy and Big Brother, Little Brother and Mama) to create the moon cycle using Oreo cookies. Of course, once the project was done we all indulged in some yummy cookies!

9. Coffee Filter Planets
This was another great quick project which used materials we happened to already have on hand: food coloring, eye droppers, and coffee filters. We looked at several pictures of the planets before we started the project. I mixed up some small jars of water and food coloring to make a type of liquid watercolor. We started with Earth, using blue and green. The boys dripped a little of each color onto the filter and then watched the color spread out. After the whole filter was colored we moved them to a cookie sheet to dry. We wound up doing almost all of the planets in the end, using a variety of colors for the project. 

10. Man on the Moon Sensory Bin 
Earlier this summer we posted about our Dessert Animals Sensory Bin which use Sands Alive! play sand. For this bin we again added the play sand, as well as astronaut figurines and pebbles we'd spray painted silver. The boys practiced building the surface of the moon, including craters and other varied surfaces. 

11. Solar System Paintings
This was a project we've done previously as a guest post over at Rainy Day Mum. After reading "The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System" the kids took turns using oil cray pas and water colors on foam board to create their Solar System painting. 

Outer Space Week was definitely a hit and gave us several ides for how we could extend our learning even further next time!

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