If you’ve followed the blog at all, you know just how obsessed my 4 year old son, Finn, is with outer space. He wears his astronaut costume ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, when we were trick-or-treating this year for Halloween, we overheard a neighbor we didn’t know point to Finn and say, “I see that astronaut in the neighborhood all the time!” Yep, that’s my son. So, if you have a similarly space-loving kid, here’s some fun outer space activities and experiments to do with them!
Also, don’t forget to check out this Astro-Mom’s Gift Guide for the Best Gifts to Buy on Amazon for Your Space Loving Kid as well as this week’s devotional on Lessons I’ve Learned About God From Space.
Space Activity #1: Marshmallow Constellations
- Mini marshmallows
- Black paper
- Find a constellation you want to re-create. Here’s a link with 15 simple constellations.
- For younger children, you may want to trace the constellation first
- The marshmallows are each a star in the constellation and the toothpicks are the invisible lines that connect the stars to create the constellation
Space Activity #2: Toilet paper roll solar system
- Toilet paper
- Construction paper in various colors
- Coloring pencils/markers
- Trace and cut out planets
- Allow your child to color/decorate their planets and the asteroid belt
- Find a long area to set up your solar system. Tape the beginning of the toilet paper roll to the floor. Place the sun here. Roll out the toilet paper roll a bit. Then, following the chart below, place each planet in order onto the rolled out toilet paper.
- This shows just how large our solar system is (especially the outer solar system!) as well as informs your child about the planets in our solar system. We were unable to fit Neptune into the right spot because we ran out of space!
Space Activity #3: Solar Eclipse Re-enactment
- Styrofoam ball
- Black paint
- Sharp pencil or pen
- Desk lamp with a round bulb (or flashlight)
- Dark room
- Paint the styrofoam ball black (or another dark color). Once it dries, poke your pencil through the styrofoam ball.
- Set up a lamp or flashlight in a dark room. You’ll want the light to be approximately at eye level (i.e. – you don’t want it to be overhead).
- The light represents the sun and the ball on the stick represents the moon. You (or whoever is holding the painted ball) represent the Earth.
- To replicate the eclipse, you’ll need to find a distance from the flashlight/lamp where the ball will completely block out the light of the bulb.
- Take turns with your child holding the “moon” and recreating an eclipse on the “earth” (your face!). Show your child how the moon creates a shadow on your face when it is aligned with the “sun” (lamp).
- Ask questions: what happens when we move the moon closer/farther away? Why don’t we have more frequent eclipses? (Answer: because of the tilt of the earth/moon respective orbits – they’re not perfectly aligned each month – otherwise we’d have eclipses every month!)
Space Activity #4: Meteorite Drop
- Shallow pan or box
- White flour
- Cocoa powder
- Rocks of various sizes
- Fill the pan with flour until it is 1-2 inches deep.
- Sprinkle a layer of cocoa powder on top of the flour. The cocoa powder allows you to see the “meteorite” ejecta more clearly.
- Take turns dropping the rocks (AKA meteorites) into the flour mixture. Pro mom tip: it’s extra fun to film this in slow motion to watch later with your kiddo – they’ll love watching the rock hit the flour and all the flour spraying into the air!
- Compare and contrast the outcome of each rock hitting the flour. Ask questions: what will happen if the meteorite hits at a different angle? Does a larger rock always produce more ejecta? What happens if we throw the rocks more forcefully?
Space Activity #5: Balloon Rocket Launch
- Long piece of string
- Sturdy surfaces to tie string to (ex: a doorknob and a sturdy chair)
- Find a clear area where you can do your rocket launch. A long hallway is a good choice.
- Thread your string through the straw. Tie one end of the string to a stable surface (ex: a doorknob of a closed door) and stretch it down your hallway to tie the other end to another stable surface (ex: the leg of a sturdy chair). You want the string to be taut.
- Blow up your balloon and hold it closed with your fingers without tying it shut. Using tape, attach the balloon to the straw while keeping the balloon inflated.
- The straw is the spacecraft and the balloon is your fuel tank. Your breath is the “fuel” inside the balloon.
- Once you’re ready to launch (cue the countdown!) release your balloon and watch it blast off.
- Ask questions and experiment with the trajectory of the straw by raising/lowering the placement of the string. What factors contribute to the spacecraft reaching its destination? (Fuel, gravity, if you’re outside – the weather!)
Try these other space-related activities:
Galaxy Jar STEM Activity for Kids (this is a fun one for the little ones!)
Oreo Moon Phases (yum!)