Sunday, November 2, 2014

Intentional Play October (the wrap-up)

I'm not going to lie. Our month of space-themed play has been pretty fun. We got to do some awesome craft together, including our toddler-friendly planets-on-a-stick as well as our old favourite - the painted paper-plate. We hung planets from the picture rails and moons and stars from the mantelpiece.

We also did a lot of blasting off, and half-got the concept of counting backwards from five to zero. Even our new swimming teacher got in on the act and let us countdown and blast-off, splashing around and rocketing out of the pool. Mooching Lovely Husband's rockets also helped, making our little big universe pretty cool (and accurate).

The universe also cooperated, granting us a blood-red lunar eclipse (sorta/kinda). I showed Dear Boy footage of the moon that had been plastered all over the news. I did not show him footage of the Antares rocket Cygnus exploding seconds after take-off on its way to resupply the international space station. We watched the successful launches and talked about the men who touched the sky. I may or may not have quoted one of my favourite episodes from The West Wing.

That and CJ's monologue to the president about why he should do the open classroom anyway, even after the mars rover fails:

We have at our disposal a captive audience of schoolchildren. Some of them don't go to the blackboard or raise their hand 'cause they think they're going to be wrong. I think you should say to these kids, "You think you get it wrong sometimes, you should come down here and see how the big boys do it." I think you should tell them you haven't given up hope and that it may turn up, but, in the meantime, you want NASA to put its best people in a room and you want them to start building Galileo 6. Some of them will laugh and most of them won't care but for some, they might honestly see that it's about going to the blackboard and raising your hand. And that's the broader theme ('Galileo V', The West Wing).
I refrained from Star Trek, but only marginally. It's just a matter of time, really.

Finding space-themed books in our local library that didn't have a bedtime or lullaby theme was actually quite hard. Oliver Jeffers won the day (month) with The Way Back Home (although we were already fans of his Lost and Found).We also dug out a copy of Playschool's Jemima to the Rescue, where the biggest emergency on the space station was running out of honey for their bread.

We had a marginally easier time of it with the songs:
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • Bend and Stretch, Reach for the Stars
  • Zoom, Zoom Astronaut (this is actually a new one for me, which Dear Boy brought home from childcare - it's a little sad) and reminded me a lot of...
  • Rocket Man (Elton John) and...
  • Space Oddity (David Bowie).
  • and the Giggle Galaxy and Twinklify (bless ABC 4 Kids)

Giggle and Hoot were a fairly good resource for this one, with quite a few short clips of the gang and their Giggle rocket and Hoot and Hootabelle zooming around on stars.

Other (young) kid-friendly space-themed shows include Q Pootle V and Cloud Babies, which are both a little weird but, you know, g-rated and not at all violent.

Dear Boy isn't quite ready for them, but movies I would have liked to revist with him would have been: ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Flight of the Navigator, Lilo & Stitch, The Last Starfighter, Spaceballs, Wall-E, Zathura.

Our only real investment in this month's play, besides some styrofoam balls and a Peppa Pig wooden rocket ship (which is really a block of wood on wheels), was a Night Sky Projection Kit from the Australian National Geographic shop.After piercing out what felt like a billion holes, we lay put that sucker together, plugged her in, lay back and watched the constellations blaze across the ceiling of Dear Boy's room. Now we just need to find a time to hit up the Planetarium.

What activities, books or movies would you add to a month of space-themed play? 

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