Thursday, March 1, 2012

Outer Space Projects

Josephine discovered the Magic School Bus series a few years ago and has been a fan since.  They can be tedious to read to a child (lots of sidebars and thought bubbles to read in addition to the story) but they are really wonderful. They teach kids so much about science in a very accessible way and with a cute cast of characters.  Reading the Magic School Bus book about space got Jo really interested in the subject and since we have looked for lots of books, videos, and projects related to space.

Recently we discovered (at the library) a DVD called, AstroPuppies in Space.  In the show two puppies go to space and fly around in their rocket ship and visit planets. The show has cute little songs, including one about the phases of the moon that goes like this: (disclaimer...this is dictated from Josephine's sounds complete to me, but I don't actually remember how the heck it goes)

A crescent moon is a cradle that rocks a baby to sleep, a half moon is a little boat that sails the ocean deep, a full moon is a silver coin that shines so very bright, and a new moon is like magic 'cause it hides from me at night.

The brilliant thing about DVD's like this is that kids can learn poems about the phases of the moon while mommy and/or daddy can sit for a minute and watch the paint dry on the wall.  Or the cat hair float in the sunlight coming through the window.

We have two more DVD favorites to share on this topic.  Field Trip to the Planets, and The Big Space Shuttle. "The Big..." series is interesting and there are several different topics they cover.  There are DVD's about national parks, trains, planes, newspapers, and a few other topics.

In keeping with the space theme we made some special play dough this week called galaxy play dough. We found the inspiration here and used the recipe in MaryAnn Kohl's book, First Art.


  • 5 cups water
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups salt
  • 3 Tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 10 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Food coloring


Mix water, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring regularly until mixture is hot. Add oil. Stir in flour a cup at a time, stirring in between each addition. Mix until playdough pulls away from pan and is no longer sticky (pinch it between your fingers to test). Dump dough on counter, let cool a bit, then knead.  

After making the play dough (adding lots of black and blue food coloring while making it) I let the girls knead it while it was still warm, which they like to do.  Then they mixed lots of blue, black, and silver glitter into the dough.

We then took out some store bought pots of brightly colored play dough and made a little solar system.  In addition we used some spaghetti to poke the play dough.  Just to poke it.  They found that pretty satisfying and we got the idea from this great post on The Artful Parent, which is a compilation post about lots of fun ideas for play dough.  More space related fun to come!

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