I was getting prepared for an exciting (to me) butterfly and caterpillar themed month of joint activities when Lady Bug’s interest, which had been waning from safari animals, moved on to space! So I put aside the butterflies and the flowers and started printing out planets and galaxies and Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
Like August’s animal theme, we’re beginning with a minute on the All About Today board and then a poem that I will recite 2 times every day for as long as the theme lasts. After we’ve done those two things we try one new activity. You can do them in any order you want. Here’s a list of the things we either have done or plan to do:
- Shiny Surface of the Moon Sensory Bin: In Lady Bug’s new Sensory Turtle I created a play surface of the moon. I used some shiny silvery fabric I happened to have, the silver side of a mermaid pillow I got a while back, and “moon rocks” made of bunched up foil and foil wrapped toys/objects. My extreme sensory seeker immediately loved all the shiny fun shapes. And chewed holes in the foil almost right away. If you have a chewer, be on the look out if you do this. So far as I can tell, Lady Bug has not ingested any foil. I wrapped foam blocks of different shapes, old baby toys of interesting shapes, a toilet paper roll, some random checkers, and some rocks. That was fun because they all looked the same on the outside but some were heavy and some were light and some made noises if you shook them and it encouraged exploration. We got really lucky and happened upon the Little Tikes Turtle Covered Sandbox at Wal-Mart clearanced for $10! We’re also blessed with the square footage and layout to accommodate having it inside. A shallow underbed plastic storage would likely do just as well but with a smaller footprint.
- Planet and Moon Phases 3-Part Cards: Some may think me strange for making so many “flash cards” for my little one, but Lady Bug loves laminated cards. She visually stims with them, moving them from in front of her to her peripheral vision, makes them up close and then farther away, and also plays with them, often scripting something that includes the word/picture on the card. She prefers cards to most regular toys.
- Read a book together: I actually printed out several for this theme, as I found several that I liked and thought Lady Bug would show interest in. All free to print. I See Planets (colors), Astronaut Prepositions, Where is the Astronaut?, and Counting in Space. That last one actually had three options, I only chose one. The blog also has quite a lot of other themed simple readers; I think I will be returning to it quite a lot in the future.
- Reach for the stars: I love this idea I found on Pinterest. Basically you tack streamers to the ceiling and put star shapes on the bottoms for the kids to have to reach for. I used blue streamers and glow-in-the-dark planet shapes that I got at the Dollar Store and have left them up for whenever Lady Bug wants to try reaching for them.
- Galaxy Dough: basically glitter in dough. I used my preferred dough recipe, you can use yours. We also played with it on a shiny silver-looking round platter I got at the dollar store that also doubles as a pretend play on the moon surface.
- Screenshot cards of the ABC’s of Astronomy from Rachel and the Treeschoolers: This is something I’ve done for various interests and shows for Lady Bug. I play whatever it is on the computer, pause when it’s at what I want, hit [PRT SCR] and then paste into a Paint document, select crop the computer parts, and then save as a jpeg. Doing it this way Lady Bug can identify the things on the screen like “orbit” and “telescope” and “eclipse.” Having these cards that she loves encourages her to say the word outside of watching the show, and she really likes them. But if you have the DVD and aren’t as impetuous as I am, SigningTime.com has an option to sign up for lesson supplements printouts which include flashcards with the signs and words of all the ABCs of Astronomy.
- Comet wands!
- Quantities with Star Stickers: I put star stickers on blue index cards and I modeled counting them.
- Weighted felt planets! I bought all the felt when Joanne’s was having a great sale, and then promptly forgot to make them and got crazy busy with other stuff.
- Planet Puzzles: I had hoped that even if she did not put the two halves of a planet together that she would at least pick up two halves that went together so I knew she knew they belonged together. That only kind of happened.
Right now I’m using these activities as joint activity practice, spread out once a day. But they can be done with a younger child who’s interested in learning but isn’t up to a lot of fine motor things, or put several together for a day of space fun.
I also decorate Lady Bug’s learning area on theme. Last month’s had zoo signs and animal wall decals I happened to have. This theme I printed out Starry Night, pictures of nebula and galaxies from Google and NASA’s gallery, and found some planet and spaceship wall decals at the Dollar Store. I also printed/laminated/cut a picture of the earth from the surface of the moon and put it up next to her Surface of the Moon Sensory Turtle.
There are even more ideas on my Astronomy Joint Activities Board.