Amazing Astronauts

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Travis and I will be cooking up some cosmic cuisine in the days ahead, thanks to his latest Raddish Kids crate. But even before the cooking began, we had to try out the lesson plan on astronauts, one of his favorite topics in the world.

To set the stage, ask your child what it would be like to be an astronaut, and what he or she would most want to do. Travis wants to fly a spaceship to another planet!

We watched a few informative videos from Chris Hadfield (familiar to us from one of Travis’s favorite books, The Darkest Dark). Hadfield, an astronaut from the ISS, has fantastic videos featuring everything from eating dessert in space to sleeping in space.

I read Travis some of the facts about what it takes to become an astronaut at NASA and then it was time to simulate being an astronaut with three cool projects.

For the first, we made space boots to walk on the moon! Travis drew a “terrain” on a long strip of butcher paper.

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He drew astronauts and craters, and then we spread the paper outdoors on our patio.

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Meanwhile, I made the boots: poke holes in two buckets, and thread rope or twine through. Gather the rope up above the buckets and knot into a loop.

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Very carefully, have your child step up onto the buckets and hold the ropes taut. Travis got the hang of lifting his arms to lift the rope as he took each step.

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“This is what it felt like for Neil Armstrong to walk on the moon!” he marveled. He gave a proud astronaut cheer at the end of his moon walk.

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Next up, we created a space meal! Watch Chris Hadfield again, and then set out a menu. Travis had a juice box, one of baby sister’s pouches, and a tortilla!

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For added fun, make sure to suit up first: snow pants make for a big bulky astronaut suit; Travis insisted on adding his jacket, too!

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Dining in space is fun!

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Finally, we made a Glove Box, which is how astronauts study potentially harmful materials. Trim the top pieces from a cardboard box and cut two arm holes in one side.

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Fill with fun items. Rocks from Travis’s collection made natural “moon rocks” of course, and I added a few other odds and ends.

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Travis slipped on garden gloves (cleaning gloves would work, too). Cover the top with saran wrap, and have your child insert their hands through the holes; now it was like he was manipulating the items from within an astronaut’s glove box!

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He loved peering at the rocks through the magnifying glass.

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For added authenticity, you can duct tape the wrists of the gloves to the holes, but we skipped that step. What fun to be an astronaut for the day!

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More or All Done?

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If you’re going to introduce one question for your baby at nine months old, this one is it: do you want more, or are you all done? First, by asking Veronika if she wants more of something or if she’s all done, it gives her a sense of agency. She can’t say the words yet, but she realizes that by her actions – pushing something away, grabbing for more of it – I’m listening to her. When you use the words, tilt your head and make your voice rise up at the end.

“More” and “all done” are also easy signs to learn, both for parents and babies (and siblings!). “More” is made by taping fingers together.

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“All done” is putting the hands up and shaking them, as if shaking something away. So today at meal time, I made sure to ask Veronika – do you want more or are you all done?

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Hmm, she’s thinking about it. Pause and see if your baby vocalizes, or perhaps even starts to sign back.

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More this time!

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The same question applies when we play with toys or if we’re hanging out some place and I’m curious if she’s had enough or wants more more more. She is just starting to do a hand wave that I think might be her first attempt at “all done.”

Would you like more of that pouch, Veronika?

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All done!

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Bring Out the Baby Bathtub

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The title of this post means exactly what it says: don’t use the baby bathtub inside this summer… Bring it outside!

Being outdoors in hot summer weather and trying to keep baby cool can be tricky. Even many kiddie pools are toddler-sized, and can be large and intimidating for a baby… Not to mention for the parent who has to keep a double eye on things when water is involved.

The perfect hack? Use the baby bathtub! It’s much smaller, and Veronika loves sitting in this even dry outside while we play But today I filled it with lukewarm water and added a few of her favorite bath toys.

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At first she just seemed amazed ato be in water outside, quickly followed by delight. She played with the toys…

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Kicked her legs…

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And loved when I showed her how to pour from funnels and cups.

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She also loves when I splash my fingers in the water to make “fireworks”!

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In sum, this is the perfect way to keep baby cool in the pool, whether it’s just the two of you or if big siblings are playing outside, too.

Tricky Triangles

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These fun foam triangles are a homemade version of a tangram puzzle! We followed a template from Highlights magazine, which made for great puzzling on a Saturday morning.

First, follow the lines provided to divide a large sheet of craft foam into 8 triangles. Big kids can help with the lines and the cutting, but this was more of a craft that I set up for Travis than one we prepared together.

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Soon I had 3 sets of triangles for him, in orange, green, and yellow foam.

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We looked at the shapes in the magazine and he wanted to make the fish first: green triangles! Tangrams are wonderful for helping children think spatially and translate what they see on the page to a real model.

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Travis needed help with the orientation of a few triangles, but mostly could see how the fish came together.

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Next up was an orange fox! I had Travis point out where the biggest triangle went first as a starting point, and we worked our way outward from there.

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He was quite proud when he saw the fox take shape.

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Finally, he made the yellow cat. Add big googly eyes to any or all of these, if you have them!

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As your child becomes skilled at copying the provided designs, branch out and make up your own! Next time I’m going to cut up a smaller version since these would be perfect to slip in a zip-top bag and turn into a take-along toy for car rides or waiting rooms.