The topic of Travis’s Kiwi Crate this month (stars and the solar system), is one of his favorite topics, so I had no doubts he would enjoy the projects. The crafts themselves proved to be a little faulty, but we still had galaxies full of fun. What a perfect coincidence that his recipes from Raddish Kids were star-themed this month, too.
First up: a Constellation Lantern. Travis knows quite a bit about constellations, so happily set about making a few pretend versions with the provided black star stickers on the lantern paper.
I made a few real star patterns for him, including Leo the lion (his astrological sign) and some funny ones (Darth Vader’s helmet!).
He popped open the paper lantern frame.
Insert the slots at the bottom of the frame into the provided paper base; fold and then tape to secure shut. Open the paper lantern insert and put this inside the first frame. The pages he had decorated with stars now fit in between these two.
“I can do it myself!” he said confidently, not wanting any assistance.
Adhere the provided foam circle into the bottom of the lantern. Insert the provided tea light (make sure it is on!) and then add the paper lantern lid. A pipe cleaner threaded through holes in the top makes a handle.
From here, we were off to the darkest room we could find in the house to check it out!
Travis loved being in the dark and seeing the stars “glow”.
Next up was a Solar Spinner, a kid-friendly version of an orrery.
Two interlocking wooden gears are inserted into the provided base and secured with brads. As with the lantern, Travis loved doing all these fine motor skills by himself.
Once the gears were between the two base plates, Travis screwed them together with kid-friendly plastic nuts and bolts.
He gave the machine little test, and watched the wooden gears spin around together. Now we just needed to add the provided sun, Earth, and moon. There are teeny tiny green stickers that kids can add to the blue Earth circle.
The “sun” is a light inserted into a plastic case.
All three orbs attach to the orrery with sticky foam dots.
Travis was smitten with the model he’d made! It also fantastically illustrates to children why sometimes it’s day and sometimes night, as well as why sometimes we see a full moon and sometimes no moon (a new moon). Full moon…
Finally, we put together a Making Moonlight model. Stick the sharp end of a pencil onto a Styrofoam ball (not provided in the kit); this will be your moon. Turn on a flashlight; this is your sun!
Now we headed into a dark room and I had Travis spin while I held the “sun.”
When the flashlight hits the ball, it appears to glow; but of course it’s not really glowing, just reflecting the flashlight. The idea is to show that the moon doesn’t make its own light, but looks “full” when the sun shines on it, and looks “new” when sunlight does not hit it.
Travis loved adding lots of “craters” to his moon before he was done with it.
As mentioned at the top of this post, the projects were a little faulty in this kit. In order to turn off the lights in both, you had to disassemble them a little. This constant take-apart-and-put-back-together-again meant that neither project lasted long. The top of the lantern and pipe cleaner were soon crumpled and broken, and the model sun no longer adhered to our model solar system.
But we at least got to enjoy both for a short while!
Oddly, there were no suggested books this time around, but it was easy to find some fun reads at the library, including Whose Moon is That by Kim Krans and Zoo in the Sky by Jacqueline Mitton.
Meanwhile, we can’t wait to explore further with Travis’s real telescope on an upcoming vacation. Our plans include making up our own pictures with what we see in the night sky; comparing how the sky is way out in the countryside versus near a city; and looking for craters on the moon!