My son (3 1/2) has shown interest in space lately, and I thought with the solar eclipse happening soon we should spend some time on space learning activities and reading and fun.
We’ve got our eclipse glasses (which are apparently absurdly expensive right now) and will likely travel that day to get a better view.
NASA also has some great resources here and here for ideas.
Note that a few of these have a lot of educational text and are intended for older-than-3-year-olds but we still found value looking at the pictures and exploring!
|Solar system play dough fun! Homemade black play dough with black food coloring & black glitter.
I made planets by painting 1.5″ wood craft coins with acrylic paint. I always finish wood crafts with polyurethane to ensure they stand up to rough play. I also made meteors (painted black rocks with black glitter).
My son loved this son much! Our space shuttle was covered in black play dough by the end and glitter was EVERYWHERE, which helped me realize how terrible my dust buster is.
|Matching our craft coin planets to our Space 3-Part Cards [link is to a free PDF file]. I seriously spent 20 minutes painting these planets and didn’t care too much about size/scale (how can you, really?) — I just wanted them to match our cards … and get my hands covered in black paint in the process.|
||Memory game with our Space 3-Part Cards. Print two copies on card stock, laminate and cut in to cards. Then play a simple memory game.
You can also use the cards as a traditional 3-Part Card set, but since my son is just starting to learn about this stuff I wanted to keep our learning centered on PLAY. Plus: I can’t even keep the planets straight!
||Solar system busy bag scavenger hunt. Basically I filled a 1 gallon zip loc bag with a little bit of water, dyed it black, added silver glitter. Then, I printed out our Solar System Scavenger hunt sheets [link is to a free PDF file]. The 2nd page has just the planets (plus sun and moon) in circles, so I cut those out, laid them down on the table, and added the black water bag on top. You have to (1) push the water around (some people use hair gel), (2) find and name a planet, then (3) mark it off on the scavenger hunt sheet.
Another option is to laminate the planet circles and place them *in* the bag but I felt this was an unnecessary extra step & waste of a laminating page. It worked fine just placing the circles under the water bag on the table.
|Meteor counting activity.
A tray of black beans and scrunched up tin foil balls: that’s it!!
Counting numeral cards via The Peaceful Preschool curriculum.
|Eclipse + orbit role play game: sun, earth and moon.
There’s 3 of us so we took turns being either the sun or the earth or the moon. Whoever was the sun got to hold a flashlight and shine it at earth. To demonstrate an eclipse, whoever was the moon stood in front of the flashlight beam to block the sun to earth. We also got silly with orbiting each other — running circles and getting dizzy.
|Moon rock transfer activity: adding black marbles on to white golf tees (placed in a foam piece covered in tin foil). My 2 year old LOVED LOVED LOVED this. This easy-to-set-up activity is great for concentration, coordination, and fine motor skills. You could make this more difficult by numbering the golf tees and having the child place them in sequence. I set up the golf tees for my 2 year old but you could also have your child add the golf tees to the foam board themselves!|
|SPACE phonics activity + Sensory “space treasure hunt” fine motor activity and play.
First, my 2 year old scratched with a wood pencil on our ALEX Little Hands scratch ABC’s (via Target Dollar Spot which I cannot find online — but you could get these sheets and cut into letters or shapes). We reviewed the letters as we went.
Then, later I added those letters to a cookie tray covered in tin foil with multi-colored marbles (“planets”), black beans and tin foil balls (“meteors”). I wrapped several marbles in tin foil and they had to hunt for them like treasure. Unwrapping small objects wrapped in tin foil is a GREAT and simple fine motor activity!
|Solar system orbit drawing & play.
I very roughly drew circles around the sun, one at a time, and had my son say which planet went in that orbit and then place it there. After we were done, he played and had his spaceship land on meteors. Things then turned for worse when the sun “went away” and planets started bumping into to each other!
|Space-themed song & movement games:
The Moon Is Round via Games Children Sing & Play
The Sun It Rises via Games Children Sing & Play
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