Early Explorers Space

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Travis’s penultimate package from his Early Explorers subscription was all about space and – forgive me for saying it – he had a blast with this one!

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The activity booklet this month was heavy on tracing (letters, shapes, names of planets), but I considered that a good thing, since it reinforces lessons Travis is getting in preschool. We might have liked to see a more detailed space craft or science project, though, since the topic lends itself so easily to both.

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Space Craft:

The craft was actually playing with the included keepsake this month (see below), a set of space-themed stamps and ink pads. The activity booklet included a blank page simply for “stamp fun.” Travis was thrilled seeing the images, including Jupiter, an astronaut, a solar system model, and more.

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Once that page was filled, he needed more paper!

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I loved watching his creativity as he stamped and then cut some of them out to play with.

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Space Science:

As mentioned, it was a bit of a disappointment that the booklet didn’t feature a scientific experiment. But for “science,” we headed out to look at constellations. We also headed out one night to glimpse the International Space Station, You can check out when it will be in your area here. Travis got to stay up late (a treat!) so we could catch an 8.34 fly by. Looking, looking…

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We think we saw it!

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Space Keepsake:

These were the space stamps, of course! See my notes above in the craft section.

Space Field Trip:

Although not recommended as a further activity, it seems only natural to visit a planetarium near you during this unit. Since Travis had done so recently on a school field trip, though, we headed to a fantastic local museum all about aviation, and focused on the final stretch of the museum: space travel.

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Travis has never shown much interest in this section before, but now he was enthralled. He got to simulate landing a space shuttle, see a real moon lander, explore a model of a future space station on Mars, and more.

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Space Further Activities:

First, we checked out NASA’s website to see what astronauts are currently up to. Travis is captivated by the rovers on Mars!

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Then, we found a blog post on Little Passport’s website about World Space Week. First we made a comet: attach aluminum foil around the tip of a craft stick to form a ball.

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Cut metallic-colored ribbon into pieces about 6 inches long; attach to the stick.

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Travis loved making his comet soar!

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Then we designed an alien. Let your kid’s imagination run wild here!

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Travis’s alien was green; he started with its belly, and said it had a belly ache which made it a mean alien – oh no!

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I took him in front of his Little Passport’s map and had him close his eyes and point (you could also do this with a spinning globe). His finger landed on Africa, and his challenge was to describe Africa to an alien who’d never been to Earth. This might be easier for younger kids if you default to having them describe their hometown.

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You can also bring space into your home with fun decorations. We traced stars and moons using a cookie cutter on construction paper, and also added glow-in-the-dark stars.

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I sent a secret loving message on one section of wall. Travis made a “comet” and the “big dipper” in his area!

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For some final learning, we went to the library for a books about space (he loved one about Mars, and another about the gas giants), and also found links online to learn more about comets and meteors, including this kid-friendly video.

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As I said, what a blast!

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Name Familiar Sounds

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Whenever I come across auditory activities for a baby, there’s a part of me that feels bored with the idea; I prefer activities that are craftier or cuter, I guess! But then I remember: if I don’t tell Veronika the name of a sound, who will? Everything at this age is new, including what might feel ho-hum to a grown-up.

So all that said, today Veronika and I focused on sounds. We started inside, finding familiar, noticeable noises. Some good candidates included: the tea kettle;

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The laundry machine;

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and running water.

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She was fascinated by my phone when I programmed it to make an old-fashioned telephone ring.

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Give your child time to absorb each sound, and name what it is, and some descriptive words about it.

Next, we headed outside for further exploration. The first thing we noticed was the wind rustling leaves. It was beautiful to pause and hear the whisper and whoosh together.

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We also paused to hear the splash of a fountain.

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My girl was listening intently!

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Other sounds included barking dogs, footsteps, and chirping birds. She got to hear several modes of transportation, including cars and a train roaring by.

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There was even a helicopter making noise overhead.

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What else did you hear on your exploration? Please share in the comments!

Button Toss

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This fun game (another winner from Highlights magazine) involves crafting on the front end and then becomes a sport with some math involved by the end!

To put it together, you’ll need 3 boxes, ideally of different sizes and heights. Paint each box a different color, for the best contrast.

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We also squirted on some puffy paint because, puffy paint.

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Note: If you don’t have paint, you can wrap them with wrapping paper instead. Glue the boxes together in any configuration and let dry.

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To play, I cut out paper circles and marked each with a different score for each box. The easiest was worth a 1, the second was a 2, and the hard one was a 5. (Note: Big kids can skip count by 5s, labeling the boxes 5, 10, and 15).

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In an empty egg carton, add paper circles numbered 1 through 12 (or 5 through 60, if skip-counting).

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Each player now needs 2 buttons – one to toss and one as a score piece.

Travis took his first toss – a lucky 5!

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I helped him count his button five spaces forward through our scoreboard.

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He loved the challenge of the game, and the challenge of counting his score each time.

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The first person to 12 (or 60) wins!

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