Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Space Week Begins!

It's really hot here... and it's only going to get hotter and while Ace enjoys running around and playing in the heat, I am less of a fan and Mae even LESS of a fan... so I have been researching fun things to do indoors. I mean there are plenty of home schooling moms that do it every day, right? Indeed! So I set out to find something that Ace would find entertaining. As previously mentioned I happened upon Counting Conunuts. She had a whole lot of great ideas dedicated to outer space, and it was very inspiring! I've used several of her ideas for this week's worth of fun!

So on Sunday I got to work and started to sew some felt planets and Pluto the now deemed 'dwarf planet', I printed out some flash cards on the moon and got them laminated, and I prepared Ace's sensory box 'space themed' - Ace was very excited for 'school' to start on Monday morning (after double checking he wasn't GOING to school away from me... siigh) and was eager to sit down on his blanket and get started.

Loving Husband and I agreed we needed to help provide him with some perspective of where outer space was and so I came up with a nine block photo using Bing aerial maps to show pictures of our house, neighborhood, city, state, the nation, the world map, a picture of earth from space, and then finally outer space. We imagined we were flying higher and higher to get there! And after some repetition he was able to recognize and identify each of the 9 squares (6 of which he retained today) next up I brought out the sun and the earth. I talked about how our planet rotates around in a circle every day and that's what causes the sun to 'rise and set' because we're turning away from it as the day goes on. Next up I had him say the month of the year while I rotated the earth around the sun and explained that is how long it takes! He was really excited to hear that (well really he was just excited in general.)

Next up I broke out the 7 other planets (Pluto will make an appearance Wednesday, when we learn about dwarf planets) I put them in order and we went through and learned one fact about each of them. After he learned those facts, we talked about the sizes of the plants and we stacked them to show their size variation. Next up we listen to two different songs regarding the planets that I found on Amazon here and here. These were the least annoying... which is impressively sad.

After we listened to some music and Ace had some free play with the planets, I introduced him to the sensory box. Another great item that I found on Counting Coconuts. It was iffy on if it would hold his attention, if he'd be too old for such an activity and not find much enjoyment in it, but so far it is a great success and I think I will try and create a new box each month to let him explore, count, sort, seek, identify, etc. with! Because let's be honest, I love thematic things and to create miniature worlds in a box fits right in with that! We'll have to see what will occur once Mae gets big enough to crawl and stand - Ace himself might be put into a protective circle to do his sensory tub time. ;-) But we'll cross that when we come to it. For now Ace is just enjoying the loosely space themed sensory tub!

So curious where Mae is during all of this? She's around us - either actively watching or doing her own thing near by. Occasionally she's down for a snooze.

After about two hours of this fun and a short break for some more breakfast, we met up with Loving Husband who had an extended lunch break and we went to the library to procure some books on outer space. We found about 8 that we can use, then headed to lunch, and nap time. After nap time Ace wanted to play with his sensory tub some more and did until his dad came home from work.

This morning I was woken up around 7am with Ace carrying the 9-picture poster wanting to learn about space. "Can we learn about space now, mom?" I appreciated his enthusiasm but the hour wasn't cutting it for me, and so I sent him to watch some educational programming on PBS. After some morning time outside before it got too hot and a small breakfast we began Day Two of Space Week! He was so excited!

We began again reviewing the 9-picture poster and all the planets. Ace after a few rounds of repetition was able to recognize all of them except Saturn and Neptune. He takes a bit of a prompt for Uranus (which he calls Urweenus, hehe) by remembering its name after I say "It's the coldest planet" He got it! :) Next up we put all the planets away except Earth and I brought out the moon. We again talked about how the Earth rotates in a circle each day and how it orbits the sun over the course of a year. Then I introduced the moon and talked about how it takes about a month and the moon orbits the Earth. Next up came the visual aids, which I got here and a book (which is really good explaining in kid terms the concept of the moon phases over the course of a cycle.)

After reading the book to Ace and showing him the poster with the cycle of the moon, I then got out the flash cards and laid them out in a row in the order and then handed him a stack and told him to match them. I thought he'd need more guidance but nope he did great! He matched them all correctly except two of them.

Next up was learning about the galaxy, with the help of another library book and I broke out our 9-picture poster of our home, neighborhood etc. and walked him through the concept that this time Earth is our home, and the planets are our neighborhood and that the Milky Way Galaxy is the 'nation' and that there are LOTS of galaxies within outer space. I think in general that concept is a bit harder to grasp, so we moved on pretty quickly to do a craft project and make a galaxy! I forget where I got this idea, but somewhere out in bloggyland is where it came from. The original concept is to use glitter, but I am anti-glitter so I used sequence. :) Ace got to put together a galaxy using oil and sequence and mom affixed it with some teal duct tape to ensure oil wouldn't go flying.

After we made the galaxy it was time for more breakfast and during breakfast I put on Wall-E so that he could see some good visuals of space. Upon the first rocket launch when they first enter space they showed a galaxy and Ace was like "LOOK MOM IT'S THE GALAXY!" I am so excited he soaked it up in enough to translate it from the pictures in the movie! Since the movie has been on he's gone back to play with his sensory tub, asked over and over again "Now can we do space, mom?" and finally said he "I started school, mom" on his own by breaking out the planets and putting them in a line. So I think that Space Week is off to a GREAT start and he loves to learn about it. Other things planned for the week: Learning about dwarf planets (introducing poor Pluto), learning about NASA and astronauts, creating a jet pack, and astronaut ice cream! Lots more fun to be had, so stay tuned! :)


Carrie said...

I'm so glad that he's so into it! You can definitely see the payoff of all your hard work. Go mama!

brianne said...

Urweenis, haha! LOVE IT

Dawn Suzette said...

Your felt planets turned out great. So fun to see others making them! All of your space activites look like lots of fun!