Thursday, August 23, 2012

Space stuff

The Greatest (and youngest) Astronaut in the Universe lives here...by his own description.
The Boy continues to have space on the brain all the time. Anything we need him to do requires a countdown..."3, 2, 1...blast off!" Everything he does is accompanied by a rocket sound. He's constantly checking the NASA site to see what's going on with Curiosity, the Mars Rover. ("Mama, I'm just gonna check and see what Curiosity is up to these days.") He refers to his "astronaut jammies," his "astronaut breakfast," our "space station" (our house), the Rover (our car), his "command seat" (the car seat).

I know that most people's career aspirations at three-almost-four don't materialize quite the way they had imagined, but he is certain that he will be flying missions in space before very long.

Because he seems to have the kind of brain that gobbles up everything in its path, it's a challenge sometimes to keep up with him. At his request, I've been spending the sisters' morning nap times with him doing "space stuff." He is curious about everything. We made a list of the things he wanted to know about the planets and the solar system and stars and astronauts and space travel and galaxies and constellations and...you get the idea. The list is rather long. All the categories started with the same question, though: "What would it look like inside that (planet, star, black hole) if we chopped it in half?"

Some of our recent projects are pictured here, in case you're interested. No tutorials - we've been moving so fast that there hasn't been time for that kind of thing. This is the raw, unpolished version we're sharing. Maybe someday I will have time to refine them a little.

On Monday, The Boy wanted to make his own set of planets. He sent himself on a "circle space mission" around the house to find objects that were round and traceable so he could make the planets. He traced them onto cardboard (old cereal boxes from the recycling bin). I cut them out (the cardboard was too thick for his preschool scissors). He was going to paint them, but at the last minute, he decided he would use crayons instead because he didn't feel like wearing a paint smock.

Listening to "The Planets" on Spotify
While he colored his solar system (which included Pluto this time, but not Eris or Ceres), we listened to "The Planets" by Gustav Holst. This part was my idea. I love this piece, and I've had the middle section of "Jupiter" in my head for a week now. Besides, I wanted to share it with him. Eventually, he asked so many questions about the music that I had to find a video of an orchestra performing it to satisfy his need to know how the percussionists looked while playing various parts of the score.

("Well, how did the man make that sound on the tambourine? I am just not sure that's a tambourine, Mama, how do you know it is a tambourine??")

His dad will be proud of this, I'm sure.


Labeling planets before they are cut out.
Although the planets were originally going to be a mobile and hang from his ceiling, he has had so much fun playing with them that he decided to leave them as they are for now. This is how The Belle earned her new nickname, "The Black Hole" - she keeps finding his planets on the rug and eating them. Nom, nom, nom.


Vigorously coloring the Sun purple. ("I want it to be a cool enough Sun that we can walk on it.")



Arranging the planets in order
Pasting rays onto the sun


Our other projects this week included a rocket (made from a paper towel tube and an egg carton) and a space helmet, which is still not quite right. The Boy's initial plan to make a space suit was derailed by his uncontrollable desire to run on the bubble wrap and pop bubbles with his feet (which is way more fun). We used recycled materials for the helmet- a plastic strawberry container, a gallon milk jug and a bubble wrap mailer- and kind of fudged it. I'm sure someone out there has a great step-by-step blog post on how to make a beautiful space helmet for your child. This is not that post. As my mom says, we are going for the overall effect. There was a lot of packing tape and some stapling involved.
Getting ready for liftoff
Space Helmet. Slightly wonky. Much loved.




For other space-related projects, try ice planets and moon sand.

The Singing Spaceman