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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Giddy Galaxy: 7 Playful Ways to Teach Kids About Space

Photo by Marc Cooper (Flickr)

A few weeks ago, I checked out a few fun holidays and discovered that April 14 is National Look Up at the Sky Day. My mind instantly started spinning because space is so interesting! I was excited to celebrate this fun day with my girls as we enjoyed these seven activities about visiting other planets, exploring far-away galaxies, and imagining life as an astronaut. Try out some of these ideas yourself to have fun and help your kids learn more about our giddy galaxy!

Play "Around the Galaxy"

Do your kids ever play the basketball game "Around the World" with their friends? Instead, play a game I call "Around the Galaxy." Use chalk to draw planets on the ground around the basketball hoop and take turns trying to make baskets from each planet, starting with Mercury. The first one to make baskets from all of the planets in order wins the game.

Talk About Planetary Environments

Every planet has different environments, climates, and features. For example, I learned last week that Neptune is stormy and Saturn is made entirely of gas. Learn more about these planetary features when you visit science websites or read library books. Then, challenge your kids to draw pictures of the aliens that would thrive on these planets. Whose alien will be the wackiest, most colorful, or most likely to survive?

Go Stargazing in a State Park

The sky is filled with notable astrological events every night, and a little research will show you which ones you can see. My girls and I grabbed our binoculars and a small telescope and headed to a nearby state park, in an area without many street lights or houses. From here, we could stargaze and observe heavenly wonders. It was so much fun!

Pretend You're Astronauts

I remember seeing astronauts on TV when I was a little girl and wishing I could travel to space. That will never happen in this lifetime, but that won't stop me from pretending that I'm an astronaut today! I challenged my girls to raid their dress-up bin and find items that could be used to make astronaut costumes. Your kids can also transform cardboard boxes into rocket ships and sit in them as they pretend they're traveling to Mars or visiting the moon.

Pretend That the Playground Is a Space Station on Another Planet

My girls and I frequently visit our local playground, but for National Look Up at the Sky Day, it became a space station on another planet. They used their imaginations to find aliens, plant life, and other creatures while exploring the jungle gym, swings, and slide.

Make Space Snacks

Turn your kitchen into a space station when you prepare a variety of space-themed snacks. I gave my girls cut fruit and let them design space ships. We even bought some freeze-dried astronaut food to add to our feast! Then, we ate our tasty space snacks during a picnic at our playground "space station."

Visit a Planetarium

In my city, we can tour the Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium. Field trips here are always fun and educational. If there's a planetarium near your home, take advantage of it as you learn about stars, planets, and space travel. You can visit virtual planetariums, too, if there's not one within easy travel distance.

I love National Look Up at the Sky Day! How about you? You and your kids can have fun playing and enjoy our giddy galaxy with some of these seven activities. Let me know which ones you choose!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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