Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Since Smarty is a dreamer, her head is often truly “in the cloud”. Since early childhood, she was very interested in all things space. Here is how we supported this interest over years.
Supporting Your Kids Interest in Astronomy and Space
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Read about Space

Guide to Space
Smarty was reading books about space since she was 2. Now she is all about fantasy, but space is an only subject that still pulls her back to non-fiction. Her recent non-fiction space finds include Ken Jennings’ Junior Genius Guide to Outer Space and Ripley’s Shout Outs: Zoom! 

Build Rockets

So far we have only built Lego rockets – Smarty received a Lego shuttle as a present for Christmas one year, and Papa built her this shuttle out of standard Lego bricks to prove a point that it can be done.  We still have plans to launch a soda bottle rocket, Alka-Seltzer rocket, and bike-pump rockets.

Watch the Night Sky

Harvest Moon
When opportunity presents itself, we go with Smarty on night walks. Most of the nights, our Silicon Valley sky is clear, but light pollution is pretty strong, and we can only see brightest objects in the sky. Alas, none of us is strong is astronomy and star identification, but SkyView app really helps to at least identify major constellations and planets. We also bought a Target telescope for $15 once, but that was a dud. We are still contemplating a better telescope, but, to be honest, Smarty is not really interested in astronomy that way. She is more intrigued by more profound questions – what was there before the Big Bang and why did it happen? Will the universe expand forever? What is dark matter? Will we discover alien life? Those are questions occupying her mind, especially at night.

Go on a Field Trip

Alas, we cannot go on field trips into space, but there are so many fascinating exhibits related to space. We had a privilege to visit a few of them so far:

Ames NASA Museum

NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View has a small museum that is open to public. It has an interesting collection of exhibits related to early space exploration and about current robotics program. Our 4 year old mostly enjoyed touching a real moon rock.


Space Shuttle Endeavor

We stopped in California Science Center on our way from San Diego in 2013, because we all wanted to see Endeavor. It was still in temporary facility and 6 year old Smarty hated the smell of it. She wanted out in 5 minutes, but she enjoyed the permanent space exhibition in the museum and the rest of hands-on exhibits. I am hoping we will come back there when she is older.


Museum of Natural History

Since my parents live in New Jersey, Smarty has visited the Museum of Natural History almost every summer during her visit to grandparents. All prior times she was anxious to see the dinosaurs, but this time she opted to spend most of her time in the Rose Center for Earth and Space. She especially enjoyed The Hall of the Universe and this time she actually read the information instead of just playing with hands-on exhibits. It’s fascinating to see how her knowledge expands and changes as she gets older, but some of her interests still stay the same

Follow Space News!

Pluto Flyby
Smarty, as other young and old space enthusiasts around the globe, is thrilled about New Horizons probe approaching Pluto. Your kids can follow NASA online, read astronomy news, or follow astronomy picture of the day for fascinating pictures of the universe.

Your Turn

Activities and resources for young space and astronomy lovers

Do you have space enthusiasts at home? How do you encourage their interest in space?

More Astronomy for Kids?

From my blog:
Space Books and Activities for Elementary School
Follow my Astronomy for Kids Pinterest board.
Follow Natalie Planet Smarty Pants's board Astronomy for Kids on Pinterest.

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Ticia said...

We were just reading about it passing Pluto and looking at the picture released.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

My kids remain shockingly uninterested in space. Mike wanted to be an astronaut, but even I was mildly interested as a kid.

Sort of off-topic, but is there a museum in the area that you would consider worth buying a membership for? Preferably one that isn't constantly packed.

The Brick Castle said...

My children have adored watching the films from the Space Station, and also the films taken of the Earth from above. I think it's a good way to introduce them to the idea of relative size - which frankly still I'm sure I don't appreciate :D

Gude @HodgePodgeCraft said...

Great ideas! We love painting space artwork, building cardboard rockets and reading books about astronauts too :)


An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

We were able to attend a couple of different library hosted astronaut presentations when the children were younger. Meeting people who had actually been into space, and hearing about their experiences helped to spark a good deal of interest.

Mum of One said...

Oh I so hope my two will like all this stuff. So exciting for young minds. Thanks so much for sharing with the #pinitparty. Have pinned

lizC said...

I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little. I hope my little ones show an interest in space too! Thanks for your ideas!