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Monday, February 27, 2017

Toddler Fun, Week 20: Letter N, Counting Down, Nasa, and Blue

We're going to NASA!!!
We've had services this month near the Kennedy Space Center, so we decided to take a family day!  Besides, I couldn't find any interesting animals starting with "N", so it worked out perfectly!


1. Pretend Play
 I made Aidan this space shuttle out of a box.  It turned out even cuter than I'd hoped!  (I should've taken picture of the process, but basically I opened up the box, and then repurposed all the pieces.) I painted it white, then the front black.  I added the blue windows to the front.  I printed out the flags and NASA logos, and glue them on.  I put tissue paper in the back, and fluffed it out to make "flames".  I then added the shoulder straps. 

 Here's another side shot of it.
 He had so much fun!  He ran around collecting "moon dust" (sand from the sand box), "meteorites" (bark), "moon rocks" (actual rocks) and making zoooooming sounds.

We practiced counting down to blast off!

This is him driving it.  Obviously.  This is how all astronauts drive, I'm told, haha!

2. Visiting the NASA Kennedy Space Center
Living in Florida DEFINITELY has its perks!  There are so many things here that are nowhere else in the world!  Since we're itinerating, we have the privilege of seeing so many things!  
The past few weeks most of our services have been on the Space Coast, so I thought it was a great time to visit NASA!  Besides, I was having a hard time coming up with an exciting animal that starts with "N".  
We were SO lucky, because as soon as we walked in, there was a guy (or girl) in an astronaut suit.  We never saw them again that day, so we were pretty excited...
 to say the least!  Seriously.  It was awesome!
 We got Aidan a replica toy of the Atlantis shuttle that was there, which was a huge hit!
 I thought this quote was fitting for our little missionary kid!

Our little astronaut just had to have a helmet.  Had to.

We also got to touch a moon rock!
The whole experience was WONDERFUL!  Honestly, one of the best family days ever!
Whenever we saw the NASA logo, I asked Aidan what letters he saw, which he enjoyed.  It became an I spy game. :)

Here are my tips for your family, if you're planning a trip to the Kennedy Space Center:

* Check the info center for coupons before you get in line to get your tickets. We had one on my phone, but they require a paper coupon.   The lady at the desk said there were some at the info desk, but we didn't want to get back in line.

* They have stroller rentals, which is convenient, if you forget yours.  Like we did. * We ate at the Rocket Garden Cafe, and the food was surprisingly good!  If you'd rather not spend money on food, you should know that you're not allowed to bring food into the complex.  You can however, leave, get a stamp on your hand, go out to your car, eat something you have in your cooler, and then go back in.

* The Atlantis exhibit is SUPER kid-friendly!  There are slides, interactive exhibits, the entrance-show is AMAZING, there's a replica of a portion of the International Space Station they can climb through... it's the best part of the center!  There is also a separate playground for kiddos, which is great!
* You do have to pay for parking, which is $10.  Kind of a bummer, but unavoidable.

* There's a 45 minute bus ride through the launch pads, viewing areas and things like that, which turned into the perfect time for Aidan to take a nap.  Maybe your little one will take a snooze too!

3. Rocket Experiment
 For this science experiment, Aidan colored some rockets, then I cut them out. I taped a piece of a large (wide) straw to the back.  Then I took some smaller (thinner) straws, we went outside, and went at it.  You can find complete instructions, as well as the coloring page here.
 We put the rocket on the large straw, then Aidan tilted his head back, blew as hard as he could, and... they flew!!  We compared how far different ones flew, how it changed if we blew hard, or soft, etc.
We also practiced doing a countdown again.

4. There's Learning Everywhere
 Aidan very meticulously laid out all of his toys, and told me "I did it!  It's outer space!"
We attended my grandfather's funeral this past week.  They had a room for children, with toys.  They had this white board with magnet letters.  Dan took him in there, where proceeded to put the letters N, A, and S beside each other, and said, "It's missing an A.  That says NASA."  When Dan told me, I nearly lost it.  Aidan has really retained a lot this week, and I think it's because he was genuinely interested in what we were learning about.  A good thing to remember!  All week mandarin slices have been space rocks, going potty has been "like an astronaut" (we saw the astronaut potty at the Kennedy Space Center), he's been counting down for everything, all round objects are planets, he knows and recognizes Mars, and knows a couple other planets, can recognize the solar system... it's really been a successful learning week!


1. Rocket Fruit Kebab
I had these leftover straws from Aidan's party, then stacked up strawberries, bananas and apple and mandarin slices.  It was a big hit!  And super easy!

2. Moon Landing Lunch
Yes.  Those are marshmallows on my son's lunch plate.  But that's another matter, haha!  He happily ate the marshmallows, but then ate the rest of it too.  That's a sandwich, with the cheese on the outside, a tortilla roll/cookie/raspberry/blueberry flag, apple stars, and carrot tails.  Aidan really enjoyed it!

3. Astronaut Ice Cream
 They had this awesome snack at the Kennedy Space Canter,  but you can also find them on amazon.  It's dry frozen Neapolitan ice cream.  It has a really strange texture, which is very fun!  It's great to talk about how astronauts have to dry freeze their food for the long trip.

4. Shuttles in the Asteroid Belt
When we were at the Kennedy Space Center, we saw these gummies, and since Aidan is our live-in gummy aficionado, we had to try them.  I cut fruit leather into the tails in the back, and made banana asteroids.  Huge hit!

5. Rocket Crescent Sandwich
I love making crescent sandwiches, a) because it's easy, and b) because I can make it look like a lot of different things.  So, when we ran out of bread, but still had lunch meat, it was time for a crescent rocket!  I put cheese and lunch meat chicken in the crescent, rolled it up, and tried to make it look rocket-like.  Next I cut up kiwi, cut it into stars, orange slice wings, and carrot exhaust fumes.

6. Solar System Snack
Sadly, it was raining cats and dogs the day I made this, so this is the best picture I got.  I made the sun out of a mandarin, used a chocolate chip for Mercury, a raspberry for Venus, a kiwi slice for Earth, a strawberry slice for Mars, an apple slice for Jupiter, banana for Saturn, blackberry and some kiwi for Uranus, and a blackberry for Neptune.  Then I added a few pieces of marshmallow for asteroids.  A very tasty treat!


1. Astronaut Aidan
I printed out an astronaut coloring page, let Aidan have at it (I asked him to color it gently, to which he answered that he wanted to color fast.  I asked him "why", and he said "because it's fun!"  Can't argue with that!), and then glued a picture of him, and a NASA logo on it.  Aidan had so much fun, he put it in the shuttle and took it around with him.

2. N is for NASA
I created a rocket out of shapes, then traced them onto black paper.  Then I asked him what each shape was, and we matched him. 
The triangles were tricky, he had to turn them around a bit, but that's good practice! 
And there it is!

3. Coloring Pages
The best thing about coloring pages is that you can take them with you!  One of the days we were in a hotel for a while, it was a great distraction that wasn't a screen!

4. Solar System - Preschool Version
I found a coloring page with all the planets.  I cut them each out, then had Aidan color them the correct(ish) color.  With each one, I told him the name, how far they are from the sun, etc.  I taped two pieces of black paper together, then made rings, and wrote the ordinal number at the bottom.  I let him glue each planet anywhere on the "orbit" line, we talked about labels, and glued their name below each one.  I'm not expecting him to know all of them, but he DOES know Mars and Jupiter, so that's a victory!

Books and Media

We Read:
(I made up for last week's lack of literature this week, haha!)

1. Gravity by Jason Chin
I really like this book!  I got it at our school book fair last year.  The illustrations are gorgeous!  This book doesn't have a lot of words, but it basically explains the law of gravity.  Which is pretty awesome, if you ask me.

2. One Giant Leap - The Story of Neil Armstrong by Don Brown
We found this book at NASA.  It is a sweet book about Neil Armstrong, and his determination.  I didn't realize the hard work (besides the obvious) Neil Armstrong put into becoming an astronaut.  He started work at a very young age to pay for his own flying lessons.  Probably more suited for 5-year-olds, but Aidan enjoyed it!

3. What the Moon is Like by Franklyn M. Branley
This is a fun book about what the moon is like, as well as looking forward to what future moon colonies may look like!  We found this one at NASA too.

4. Solar System by Gregory Vogt
This is a great book for straight up facts.  I like how it's organized, and it would be really useful for a school project.  We found it at our local library.

5. I Want to be an Astronaut by Byron Barton
Another great library find.  The illustrations in this book are big and chunky, which is perfect for preschoolers.  The word to page ratio is low, another bonus!  This is a great book to reiterate the vocabulary words for this week, like: gravity, shuttle, crew, space, Earth, etc.  

6. The Magic School Bus - Lost in the Solar System by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
I used to own this book, but it was such a favorite in my classroom, it just didn't make it.  Thankfully, the library had one, so we were good to go!  This book pretty much follows the same story as the show episode.  The class goes on a field trip through our solar system.  The layout is a little busy for young readers, so I usually just read the main text.

7. The Adventures of Tintin - Explorers on the Moon by Herge
I'm a big Tintin fan, so much so that Aidan and I even dressed up as Tintin and Captain Haddock for our Parade of Literacy one year.  My mom, also a fan, sent me her books for that event, and I haven't sent them back yet, so we had this fun book on hand!  Because of its comic book layout, it's not really for Aidan's age range, but the illustrations are fun!

We Watched:

1. Miles From Tomorrowland - this is one of Aidan's favorite Disney Junior shows!  It's a fun show about a family who work for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.  They visit planets, and make friends with the inhabitants.  There is so much to like!  The mom is the captain, they're a multi-racial family, it incorporates some science, Miles is a good friend... great stuff!

2. Ready, Jet, Go! - we recently discovered this PBS show.  On our PBS channel it comes on at 7:30 AM, which is perfect!  It's about a young boy and his family who move to Earth from their planet of Boltron 7.  He makes friends with "earthies", and one of his new friends wants to be an astronaut.  That boy's mom is a rocket scientist, which is also really cool!  Yay for female empowerment!  Also, they have a really cute song about the scientific method.  I also found out, that if you have an Apple TV, there's a free PBS kids app, that has a few episodes of some of their shows.

3. Magic School Bus, Season 1 Episode 1: The Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space - this is as classic Magic School Bus as it gets!  As the title says, Ms. Frizzle and the kids get lost in Space, and need to find their way home!  It's a little dated, as it still has Pluto as a planet, but that can be a good conversation starter.  As of writing this, it is on Netflix.

4. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Season 1 Episode 9: Goofy's Mars - This episode just so happened to be on this week!  Mickey and pals go to Mars to rescue Goofy!

Extra Media:

1. StoryBots Learning Videos App - this free app is amazing!  It has videos on all different kinds of subjects, including outer space! There's one on the planets, Earth, the sun, the moon, you name it!

2. Bible App For Kids - this, similarly FREE app is fantastic!  It has most of the "major" Bible stories, it's interactive, kids get points for reading the stories over and over, haha!  We read the creation story, and talked about how God created the universe!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Toddler Fun, Week 19: Letter V, Number 9, Volcanos, and Red

Boys and volcanos, what two things could go together better than that?  So this week, we did "V is for Volcano" and had a blast!

Week 19
Letter: V
Number: 9
No animals - just volcanos!!!
Color: Red


1. Puzzles
A dear family from a church that supports us sent Aidan this super-cute dinosaur puzzle set by Melissa and Doug.  Thankfully for us, volcanos and dinosaurs go together like peas and carrots.  We spotted the volcano in the one, and it made us very happy!

2. More Dinosaurs and Volcanos
Aidan got this adorable dinosaur play set for his birthday.  You can find it here.  As many plastic dinosaurs as there are in our house, I actually much prefer these wooden ones.  And, of course it came with a volcano!!
Aidan knows the names of these dinosaurs better than most adults, let alone 3-year-olds!

3. Building a Volcano, Lava Jumping
 If you've visited my blog before, you know that we often go to an indoor play space, called Bay & Bee.  This week, they added some more foam building cubes, which was perfect!  He and the other kids built a volcano, and then...
Of course had to jump from rock to rock, to avoid falling in the lava.  Obviously.  Priceless childhood memory - check!

4. Volcano Science Experiment
 You know that experiment that everyone does in elementary school?  We did it, and it was awesome!  For this experiment, we put baking soda in a bottle, covered the bottle with black tissue paper (which didn't really look like a volcano, but that's all I had).
In a separate container, I put vinegar and red dye.  Then, we poured it in, and watched it erupt!  I would've let Aidan do the pouring, but with it involving vinegar... I decided not to.  Aidan talked about it for the rest of the day!

5. Making Valentines
 We can't be talking about the letter "V" in February without making valentines!  I found my old scrapbooking stickers, and wrote out a couple things, then had him put stickers all over them, and color them within an inch of their lives. :)
He had lots of fun, and who doesn't love getting a valentine from an adorable 3 (!!!) year-old!


1. Volcano Grilled Ham and Cheese
I made Aidan a grilled ham and cheese, then arranged the veggies to make it look like it was erupting.  He liked the carrots, as always, but wasn't a fan of the bell peppers.  But at least he tried them!

2. Volcano French Toast
For this yummy breakfast, I made french toast, put some blueberries down, and then made the jam "erupt" out of the top.  Aidan is a big fan of French toast, so this one was a huge hit!


1. V is for Volcano
For our weekly letter, we painted some lava, then glued the top of a volcano, and the letter "V".

Books and Media

We Read:

Okay, so I dropped the ball this week.  Dan was out of town a lot, so we were without a car, so no library for us.  We DID read books, we read all our dinosaur books, because most of them have volcanos in them.  Here are some of our dinosaur books:

1. Pete the Cat: Cavecat Pete by James Dean
We love Pete the Cat around here, so this book is a natural addition to our personal library!  It's about Pete the Cat and his dinosaur pals.

2. Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton
Another favorite around here!  A great board book that Aidan "reads" to himself.

I love this book!  I found it at our school book fair one time.  I wish there were more books like this - maybe for colors, shapes, etc.  It helps kids with fine motor skills, along with teaching them about dinosaurs!

We Watched:

1. Magic School Bus, Season 2 Episode 1 - The Magic School Bus Blows its top - this episode is on Netflix (as of right now).  It's about how islands are formed from erupting volcanos. 

2. Magic School Bus, Season 2 Episode 4 - The Magic School Bus and the Busasaurus - this one is about dinosaurs, but there's a volcano in it that "un-erupts" when they go back in time.

3. Elena of Avalor, Season 1 Episode 3 - All Heated Up - Aidan is IN LOVE with Elena.  In case you're not familiar with her, she is a new princess on Disney Jr. Channel.  This episode is about a magical character named Charoca, who lives under/near a volcano. When he gets angry, the volcano starts to erupt.  It's a good conversation starter about anger management, and dealing with negative emotions.

We had fun this week learning about volcanos, with some dinosaurs thrown in.  Hope you enjoyed it!