After Alaska week, the kids were so excited they wanted to pick the next week's lessons.  I gave them a few suggestions but they decided to pick learning about space and the solar system.  In addition to activities with me, my dad based his Papa preschool time around our theme.  They had a space alphabet and worked on writing the names of the planets with my dad, while doing crafts and activities with me.

Showing off our DIY Galaxy shirts next to a picture of the real deal!

Activity 1: Solar system water colors.

I printed out a simple solar system coloring sheet.  We looked at all the planets on a poster I had and tried to match the colors in their own painting. It started off well, but then they decided to just paint any colors they wanted -- especially Lilly. What can I say -- she is not quite ready for accurate representation in water colors. Some people who follow me on instagram asked if Pluto was still a planet in my “classroom.”  My answer was, it depends on what I was using.  Some of our sheets and information still had Pluto as a planet and others did not.  I talked to the kids about how Pluto was renamed a dwarf planet.

Activity 2:  Tempura paint suns.

I cut out card stock circles and put red and yellow paint blobs on each circle. I covered each one in saran wrap so they could smear the paint all around and make fun swirls and patterns.  Then we glued the circles to a second sheet of paper.  They used q-tips to drag the paint out and create solar flares. Ok well to be honest I told them about solar flares and they just had fun making a huge painty mess. Either way, it was a successful messy project.


Adding in his solar flares

Activity 3:  Turn yourself into an astronaut

I had the kids paint (I don’t know if you can tell but my kids love to paint) a Crayola print out of an astronaut.

Then we cut out the space in the helmet and glued a picture of their face into the space suit.  They were so excited to see themselves as an astronaut.  Both Nick and Joe wanted to make sure their astronaut was the one in charge.  We decided they might be able to be co captains, or go on separate missions.


Four little Astronauts

Activity 4:  Homemade Galaxy shirts.

There are tons of DIY galaxy print tutorials online.  I have wanted to try it for a long time, so I figured why not try it during Space week.  It’s a pretty simple process.

  • Spray diluted (3:1) bleach onto the shirt in whatever pattern you want.
  • Rinse shirt and let dry (I rinsed mine with the hose then put them through a wash and dried them)
  • Use a sponge to spread blue and purple paint around the corners of your bleach spots.  This will add depth to your galaxies.
  • Use a tooth brush to splatter white paint for the stars
  • If you want to have big stars use a small brush and white paint to make large stars.


DIY Galaxy print

The kids were so excited when I told them we could wear them on our field trip at the end of the week.  Weird thing I learned though -- not all black material bleaches to that bright orange color I was expecting.  Some of them bleached to a dingy gray color.  I didn’t really want to buy more shirts so I just went with it which is why some of the shirts look a little different in the first picture in this post.

Activity 5: Solar system side walk chalk.

We did two things out in our front yard one morning.  First we drew a simple sketch of the solar system to review the planets. Then we went out onto the side walk.  We did a scale model of the spacing for each of the planets.  It wasn’t perfect because as we were measuring out paces, the kids weren’t very consistent in their steps (go figure the 4 year olds didn’t measure accurately). They did however; get to see how close the first four planets are in comparison to the outer planets, which is really what I was going for.  We had some races to see who could get all the way out to the end of the solar system first.  After a few runs they decided to get their bikes so they could reach Neptune. They informed me astronauts use a shuttle to get into space so they should use their bikes.


Solar system races

Activity 6: Field trip to the Griffith Park Observatory

We put on our homemade shirts and headed out to the observatory at the end of the week.  The great thing about it is that there is no admission.  (with four kids I am always looking for free entertainment). The lower level of the observatory is dedicated to information about the planets.  They had such a great time. We didn’t have a lot of space related books at home, so I decided to let them pick out a book as a souvenir.


Showing off our homemade shirts at the observatory

Activity 7: Air Mattress Moon walks

We had watched a few youtube videos of the first moon walking.  The kids loved the way they bounced a little bit, so I decided to set up a quick moon walk. I blew up our air mattresses and scooted them up against the couch.  I printed out a quick picture of the earth from the moon to make it seem like they were on the moon.  We had an astronaut costume given to us as a hand me down.  The kids had a great time bouncing up and down and looking at the earth.


Moon walking

Activity 8:  Moon foot prints

When the kids were watching videos of the moon walking, they really liked how they emphasized the footprints that will be on the moon forever.  We decided to make our own moon foot prints. I made some flour dough and put it on a cookie sheet.  I let each kid step into the flour dough with a shoe of their choice.  We popped it in the oven and now we have a set of little footprints to keep.  The boys decided they wanted it on the mantle.  It’s not our prettiest piece of art, but I figured I would keep it up for the summer.


Taking turns making their moon footprints

Activity 9:  Visiting the Space Shuttle Endeavor with Daddy

I do all of these things with the kids during the work week, but I wanted to make sure I included Mr. Train in some of our activities.  We have been talking about going to visit the space shuttle ever since we saw it fly over our house months ago.  So I figured it was a perfect time to go.  We headed out to see the space shuttle on Saturday morning. The kids were so excited when we walked into the California Science Center.  I have to be honest but I think their favorite part other than looking at the actual shuttle was the space toilet. What person doesn't want to know how astronauts go in space?  We also stopped on our way out to have some astronaut ice cream!

Next theme week, wizards and magic.