*Contains Amazon Affiliate links
Even though home learning was sprung on us due to the Covid-19 lockdown, I’ve actually found it quite good fun coming up with different activities for the boys each day. I know it can be really hard when you have more than one child and it is even harder when their age gaps are that little bit bigger as not everything can be done by each of them. With this in mind, I’ve had no option but to find fun activities for both children to get involved with. This usually results in me setting something a little more challenging for Jake (6) to do and then adapting that for William (2), getting them both to paint or draw or just simply giving the smallest some magic sand to get messy with whilst I focus on the school work side of things. It definitely comes with a lot of juggling and I have learnt that you can’t really take your eyes off anybody for more than 3 minutes!!
The thing is, there is really only so much of the same things you can do before everybody gets bored! So, I decided to add some themed days into our week to give ourselves a topic to properly focus on. It worked so well for both children that I am thinking that this way of learning is the way forward. Last week we covered space and came up with 11 fun space themed activities to share with you…
I was so excited to be able to tell Jake how we used to learn the order of the planets when I was at school and then I came to realise something… Pluto is no longer included! Which meant that my mnemonic ‘My Very Easy Method Just Stand Under Nine Planets’ was now redundant. Thankfully, this is still a really fun way to learn and there are others to choose from including:
My Very Enthusiastic Mother Just Served Us Noodles
My Very Easy Method Just Set Up Nothing
My Very Easy Method: Just Sleep Until Noon
But you can come up with your own too which really helps with learning the order of the planets. We had some laughs trying to think of something funny that worked…
My Very Early Mind Jumps Silly Up Nose (he’s 6 he said what popped into his head!)
Many Vivacious Mummies Just Stay Up (to) Netflix!!
My Very Experienced Mummy Jive Slides Under Nobody (who knows, eh?!)
I’m pretty sure you can come up with something a little more catchy!
The internet is a great source for space themed activities and we found a wide variety of online printables for all ages and all abilities. We did several worksheets which included a word search, a puzzle and a planet cut out and stick on sheet to encourage your child to place them in the right order. This is also a great activity to help with their reading and spelling.
I bought this mosaic rocket set from an independent shop but I’m sure you’ll be able to find something similar online. We had previously started working on it but hadn’t got very far so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to bring it back out. Jake worked through it really quickly and I loved the fact that he had to use his brain to follow the pattern and his fine motor skills to carefully place each tile in position. Not only is it fun to do, they really have to switch on their minds plus you have a lovely ornament for the bedroom at the end of it all.
Of course, the learning day will also need to include some reading but you can easily stick with the theme by finding reading books that talk about space, aliens, the Earth and so on. When I looked closely at our book collection I realised we actually had quite a few to choose from but we went with Racoon on the Moon because it is great for phonics.
For this space themed activity you will need:
- Shaving foam
- PVA glue
- Plastic spoons/paintbrushes/lollipop sticks
- Black card/paper
Begin by mixing 3 parts shaving foam with 1 part glue. You want a nice big foamy mixture (the glue is included to set the foam planet in place when it dries) Repeat this in several pots to give yourself a variety of planets.
Then begin to mix in your choices of paint colour. You could also add glitter if you wanted to. Once you have the right consistency you can pass your mixture over to your children to create their planets. We first attempted this 3 years ago when Jake had chicken pox and I would say that it can take a bit of experimenting to get your foam right.
We used paintbrushes to lift the foam up and to create the circles but you can use any of the above that I have listed.
Both boys loved creating these images and even ended up doing handprints with it too so it works for all ages.
You will need:
- Tin foil
- PVA glue
- Paint/colouring pens
- Orange tissue paper
- Craft gems
This is my attempt…
To make your rocket, first cut out your shape in the card. You could do this freehand or find an online template to follow. Jake copied mine. He chose not to have the panels on the side to make it easier for him to draw and cutout.
Then place your tin foil over the top and cut around the main shape of the rocket. Glue this onto the card.
Using paint or colouring pencils, colour in the side panels if you have included them (see my image above). Cut your flame shapes out of tissue paper and glue these in place (on the back of the rocket).
Then finally add your rocket windows by glueing on your choice of craft gems.
We decided to take our rockets and put them on a space collage.
You will need:
- Cardboard box
- Black paint/tissue paper/black paper OR old black top
- Glue gun
- PVA glue
- Craft stars
- Pipe cleaners
- Goggly eyes
- pom poms
- Wooden letters (optional)
*You can purchase a useful craft kit here
I used the side of a cardboard box as our backboard but I made sure that I kept part of the flap attached at the bottom so it could stand on its own. You could paint this black, stick black paper or tissue paper on OR you could do what I did (because I had none of the above) and use an old black top. I basically ‘dressed’ the box in my top and immediately had a space background to work with, no waiting for anything to dry. We placed our rockets in position and then glued them on with our glue gun.
I let the children place the stars on so we used PVA glue for this task and Jake drew a moon on using white chalk. With our wooden letters, we spelt out the word space and painted these before using the glue gun to stick them on. You could also use paint, glitter pens or chalk.
The last job was to make our aliens and these can look however you choose. We decided to use pom poms for the head and body, pipe cleaners for the arms and legs and then goggly eyes. Again, these were stuck on using the glue gun. You can have great fun with this and add more planets, hey, you could put foam planets on it too! You could add glitter for stars, splatter paint to create a milky way or stick stones on for asteroids.
There are so many YouTube videos on space and planets and they are aimed at all ages. Some are silly, some are interesting and some cover really important facts. For a really good perspective on the planets, I can highly recommend Brian Cox’s show over on BBC iPlayer.
Paper Mache Planets
To make a paper mache planet you will need:
- Tissue paper/newspaper/paper
- PVA glue and water OR Flour and water
In an ideal world, you will have a balloon you can blow up to create your planet shape. Guess what? We didn’t have any! So, if you have the same problem I can assure you that balling up tissue paper and layering it until you get your desired size and shape, does work. How to make paper mache really varies online but I went with the old fashioned PVA glue watered down. You then need to shred up your newspaper (again we didn’t have any so I used packaging paper) and make it wet in a bowl of your mixture. Then take these strips and begin placing them on your ‘planet’. You will need around 3 layers to give yourself a solid shape. Don’t worry if it isn’t smooth, planets are rocky so the texture will give a nice effect.
Leave this to dry overnight. Your last task is to choose which planet you want to turn this into and get painting! We chose Mars…
To end your space themed day, your last educational activity could be stargazing. If you have a telescope this would be an amazing activity to do with the kids, otherwise you will want to walk to an area with little light pollution and enjoy the view. The National Trust has some top tips in this article and for a list of constellations to look out for you should also check out this website here.
And for a relaxing bedtime activity that all the children will love, turn off all of the lights and switch on a star projector. Ours is from Amazon and you can view it here. For a more educational option that includes constellations, images, planets etc with the use of interchangeable discs check out this projector by Brainstorm.
There is so much more you could get up to and your space themed day could easily turn into a space themed week. All of what I have covered is probably more aimed at primary school aged children but you can adapt each activity to the age group you need and you could look up more technical activities such as rocket launching. I hope this has given you some good ideas for your home learning and I’d love to hear how you’ve got on with your own space themed activities.
*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. For further information on this, please refer to my disclosure page.
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