Thursday, March 1, 2012

Learning by Heart – Outer Space


The mother’s heart is the child’s classroom.” – Henry Ward Beecher

{M is 5 years old}

Goodness.  It’s been a while since I wrote up one of these posts!  We’ve been “doing school”, but it’s been sort of a haphazard here and there these past few months, and my motivation for writing about it has been null.  I’ve been lazy on many levels since late November… M had the flu, then I had the flu, then there was the first trimester of my pregnancy in all its miserable glory, not to mention Christmas thrown in somewhere along the way… and well, we got a little off track to say the least.  And the house is messy, maybe even dirty – and while I have no desire to actually clean anything up, still I feel guilty blogging when there are so many other things that need doing. :)

Yet here I am.  So I guess I’ve succeeded in pushing down those guilty feelings. ;)

Anyway.  M is totally into outer space these days, which I think happened about this time last year too.  This time he’s all about the planets and the sun.  He reminds us of the little boy in Jerry McGuire, with all the interesting facts he spouts off at random times… “Did you know that if you could go to Jupiter, you’d get instantly squashed flat because it has so much gravity?”  “Did you know that without the sun we’d all be dead and frozen?”  “Did you know that if you could get close to the sun you would instantly burn up and melt?”  I think it’s safe to say he’s entered that phase where the morbid is  utterly fascinating. :)



We read the books in the carousel below.  His favorites were the Magic School Bus – Lost in the Solar System (audio version), and the Cat in the Hat There’s No Place Like Space.


I also picked up the video version of the Magic School Bus: which was a big hit!  This was the first time we’ve checked out Magic School Bus items and I have to say I was very impressed with both the video and the book.  I know I’ve heard nothing but good about them, but I’m happy to say they both exceeded my expectations (and I’m very picky when it comes to what M is allowed to watch!).

Most of our learning came from these books and the video.  The rest of what I’ll share was mostly for fun and to feed M’s interest…



We made homemade moon sand.  I did not get a good photo of the items used in the sand because M was always so busy playing with them.  They are all either buried in the sand or awaiting their trip to the moon in these photos:IMAG0059

I used a Space Toob: , which was a big hit (and which you can get for a reasonable price at Michael’s if you use one of their 40% off coupons).  I also added in a couple of scoops just for fun and M used a wooden ball for an asteroid.  He really enjoyed having it land on the sand and make craters (his idea!):IMAG0049 You could use large rocks for pretend asteroids too, which would be a bit more realistic. 


Tan Grams:

We worked together to figure out how to use our wooden tangrams to make a rocket on the fridge:IMAG0191


M received a telescope for Christmas and we used it to look at the moon one very beautiful full-moon evening.  We also caught sight of a couple of planets (which just looked like big stars with this low-power telescope).  All very exciting stuff!  It was neat to see the craters on the moon enlarged.IMAG0163Shots of the telescope at night didn’t really turn out very well, but here you can see him spying on the neighbors during the day.  Heh.  He said he was looking at a tree, but I’m pretty sure it was the neighbors. :)

M loves a pack of outer space flash cards I picked up at Target a year or two ago.  I pulled out the ones with pictures of the planets, and he decided to line them up in order on our window sill.  He memorized the order of the planets, and I didn’t even know it until I saw him doing this!IMAG0084

I made up some little planet name cards with pictures, laminated them, and he traced their names with a dry-erase marker, then matched them up to the appropriate flash card.  You could just use these to place in order, if you don’t have pretty flashcards.IMAG0107 You can download the cards here.

Next, he decided to copy the planet names down in his handy-dandy, never-far-away notebook. :)  (This little notebook is going to be a treasure when he is older!)IMAG0108



M made a rocket from a paper towel tube (similar to the one in this post, but not nearly as pretty):IMAG0315He lobbed it around the living room until Daddy came home and made him stop.  I am sooo much more lenient about this sort of thing because busy boy equals resting mama and there’s quite a bit I’ll allow in order to make this happen these days!

We also made little straw rockets to blow around:IMAG0319Wish I could’ve gotten a shot of this in action – I even enjoyed playing with these!  You fold a 2” length of paper in half lengthwise, tape it shut except for about 2” at the end, cut the open end into strips, fold the tip into a point and tape, then insert a straw and blow the rocket into the air.  Very fun! 


Linking this post up to Preschool Corner and Weekly Wrap-Up.  Check them out for some great homeschooling posts!

Have a beautiful day!
Nicole :)



  1. What a fun theme!  Its amazing what I let Sammy get away with so I can have a sit still moment :-P I love the sensory bin!

  2. These are so fun!  We are starting our space unit next week.  Just got the same stuff for our sensory bin too!  The moon craters are a good idea...

  3. Straw rockets - VERY cool idea! We'll have to try those, my boys would love it!

  4. He is such a bright kid! I love your tangram rocket =)


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