‘Space, the final frontier’－ this line from the hugely popular television series Star Trek, cast a spell on youngsters who watched it, and drew them into the world of outer space and rocket science. Mars mission, going to the moon and rocket launches always enthrall children and they love to dress up like astronauts and gaze at the sky.
Preschoolers who are still getting introduced to this concept, are mesmerised by the night sky, stars, planets and the vast space beyond their reach. When it comes to concepts such as space, there is only so much knowledge that children can gain from books. Engaging them in activities that will build their love for the beyond, is the right way to nurture their curious minds.
Here are 10 activities that can get your preschooler interested in astronauts and space:
1. Make a Model of the Solar System
Making a model of the solar system is one of the best hands-on activities when it comes to getting children curious about the solar system. As they make the models of each planet, they can learn its name, distance from the sun and its size. These models can be made from a variety of materials and can be arranged in any manner that pleases you. Sky's the limit!
2. Spot the Zodiac constellations
The night sky is a beautiful thing to behold. There are numerous constellations that light it up. While it might be difficult for a young child to identify all the constellations in the sky, a good place to begin is by spotting constellations related to the Zodiac. This can be a year-round activity, as these constellations are seasonal in nature.
3. Visit a Planetarium
A visit to the planetarium is a must for any child. There are plenty of things to do and see there, which will keep your preschooler engaged for hours. From viewing planets through a telescope to watching informative and engaging shows about Mars, the sun, moon, the Milky Way and much more, the planetarium should be the first stop on a child’s journey into the cosmos.
4. Phases of the moon
Children love looking up at the moon and hearing stories about it. This is a 28-day activity, wherein your child can chart the different phases of the moon. Right from the no moon day to the full moon day, you can take pictures of the Earth's satellite. These pictures can be arranged together in a sequence on a chart or a book. That’s how your child gets his own moon scrap book!
5. Observe Meteor Shower
Meteor showers are nature's fireworks. They are brilliant and should not be missed. Contact your local astronomy club and join them when they observe these showers. It is a one of a kind experience that your preschooler will never forget for a long time.
6. Identify Moon Craters
A powerful binocular is necessary for this activity, but it will be worth the excitement that you little know will show, when he see through it. You can teach your child the names of some of the popular craters such as Tycho, Copernicus and Clavius. Once they become familiar with the names you can help them spot the craters using the binocular.
7. Build Model Rockets
Rockets and astronauts hold a special place in a child's heart. Instead of buying her mass-produced toy rockets, why not make one at home? All you will need is chart paper, glue, a hollow tube and some paint. You can even get your child to name her rocket once you are done building it.
8. Planet spotting
You don't need an expensive telescope to get a glimpse of a few planets in our solar system. Planets such as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible to the naked eye at certain points in time through the year. You can teach your child how to differentiate between a star and planet and then move on to spotting each of these five planets.
9. A Spacey Makeover
Give your children the best way to fall asleep by gifting them a room filled with the stars and planets. Get them involved in the project. Let them pick the night time colours. They can make model comets and planets for their room.
10. Pitching a tent under the stars
Rent a tent and take the children out of town for a day. The night skies seem much more clearer without the hindrance of the city lights. Pick a safe place, build a camp fire and you can have a brilliant night filled with stars. This a good way to get the children away from addictive technologies like the internet and mobile phones.
Early exposure to space science will benefit children in the long run. They will soak up knowledge like a sponge. Space exploration is the way to go as it is the future. Getting your children involved in learning about space through fun activities, will widen their horizons.
Also get your child to read these out-of-the-world books on outer space: