5 STEM Space Activities To Do With Your Kids This Week
There’s nothing that inspires awe quite like the night sky in all its splendor. Whether you’re lucky enough to live somewhere without light pollution, or you and your little ones catch a glimpse of constellations while camping, the stars, galaxies, and planets are a sight to behold. Because children are able to appreciate the joy and wonder of the night sky from a young age, we’ve compiled a list of five fun activities to teach your little one about space - and introduce them to science, technology, engineering, and math along the way!
Things Are Looking Up
For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have been fascinated by the celestial bodies above us. Did you know you can see a galaxy 2½ million light-years away with unaided eyes? If you want to get a little more technical, try out a pair of simple binoculars to get a better view of craters on the moon!
Enjoy all the wonder and fun of the night sky with a simple backyard or rooftop camping setup. First pick a clear night, and start by asking your little ones to point out the moon. Then, perhaps choose a moonless night to introduce them to the constellations. See if they find any shapes and figures of their own in the configuration of stars before pointing out well-known ones like The Big Dipper and Orion. While exploring the galaxy, keep your setup cozy with a waterproof blanket, some towels, or an empty kiddie pool under your pillows and blankets. Throw in some glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark clothes or face paint, and themed snacks - and your stargazing night is sure to be a blast!
If your kids have questions you can’t answer, take it as an opportunity to do some research and learn together. Doing so will ensure your little ones know they can always come to you when they don’t know or understand something.
Speaking of learning new things, there are so many DIY space-themed activities for your young one to learn from and enjoy while they build STEM and fine motor skills and cultivate creative thinking. Pair these with nights spent under starry skies, and watch your child learn and grow in leaps and bounds.
Save these at-home activities which allow you and your little one to learn the concepts of space through play.
1. What is the Universe?
2. Soaring Comets
You will need: chopsticks or a popsicle stick, metallic ribbon, scissors, and tin foil
Take five pieces of ribbon and curl them under supervision. Tie the ends of your ribbon to your stick. Holding your ribbons out, wrap three three sheets of tin foil around the end of your stick where you have tied the ribbons. Explain how the ribbons represent the gas tail, dust tail, and coma of your comet, while the tin foil ball is its nucleus. By using three different colors of ribbon, you can make a more accurate comet.
3. Edible Asteroids
You will need: mashed potatoes, butter, salt and pepper
Show your little one pictures of asteroids before this activity, and explain how they can appear in almost any shape or size. Mix the ingredients above together like a dough and form your unique asteroids. Place them on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 375° F. Allow your asteroids to cool before you eat them.
4. Model Planets
You will need: colorful clay or colored paper and scissors
Looking at pictures of our solar system, it's easy to see how each planet has its own personality. List out the colors for each planet with your child, and provide them with clay in those colors to create their own replica. You could even have them invent planets of their own, and give them new names. If you don’t have clay, try this activity out with colored paper, and have your children layer the different colors and features of the planets –– don’t forget Jupiter’s red spot or Saturn’s rings!
5. In Orbit
You will need: pie tin, colorful clay
Learn how planets move around the Sun. Roll a ball of clay, flatten it and stick it to the center of your pie tin, to represent the Sun. Now make a smaller ball from a different color for your planet, and place it at the inner edge. Move the pie tin to make your planet orbit the Sun.
Discover Outer Space
Here is a guide to some age-appropriate activities that will help prepare you and your child to learn while stargazing. This will add some context and learning to those nights spent marveling at the cosmos.
Including moon and galaxy activities to your roster is a great way to introduce your toddler to space and STEM. Our favorites included building a sensory Aluminum Foil Moon or a Moon Dust Writing Tray. These help build fine motor skills as well as cognitive and sensory skills.
At this age, you can get your little one more involved in building the narrative of the activity you do together. A great way to learn star patterns before identifying them in the night sky is by crafting Flashlight Constellations.
NASA has a list of fun, DIY activities for school going learners available online at Space Place. Memorize important concepts about the solar system, comets, stars, planets and more with arts and crafts projects. We recommend the Scavenger Hunt, Galaxy Pinwheel, Oreo Moon Phases and the Space Maze.
Explore our range of age-appropriate space-themed Skillmatics Educational Games curated, designed, and developed by experts to boost a love for STEM. Easy out-of-the-box play makes them perfect for both curious children and busy parents. Check out our Space Explorers reusable activity mat, our Connectors Mission Space card game for travel or family game night, and these free space-themed Skillmatics Printables.
With all of these activities and ideas, we hope you have a great time exploring the universe and all of its galaxies, planets, and constellations with your little space explorers!