Ever since my daughter got the book Eight Spinning Planets by Brian James & Russel Benfanti she has been asking me lots of questions about space, the planets, moon, etc that I just can’t remember the answers to. So where do I turn when I need help? The library! We took and trip and browsed through their astronomy books and she picked out a few along with a couple about the Earth in particular. Then of course she started begging for some “observation” activities. Just as a warning this one means letting the kids get down right and dirty.
Here were our favorite books we picked up:
Atlas of the Universe by Mark Garlick: Believe it or not she picked this one out herself. I tried to tell her it was more for adults (she’s 4) but she insisted and we picked it up about 3 weeks ago we have been reading a few pages every night at bed time and she loves it. I don’t think she understands it all but everything in it just amazes her.
The Planets in Our Solar System by Franklyn Mansfield Branley: This one talks about the planets and is much more kid friendly. The only word of warning is that it’s on the older side and still talks about Pluto being a planet. My daughter and I have already talked about how Pluto is no longer a planet so it didn’t really confuse her although she does feel bad that it’s no longer a planet.
What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn Mansfield Branley: After talking about the planets, orbits and rotation she wanted to know more about why we have night and day and this was a nice book to go through. Of course since it mentions the moon so often she started asking about craters, visiting the moon, etc.
Earth by Christine Taylor-Butler: This one talks about what the Earth is made of, the continents, volcanos, etc.
After reading all these books she really wanted to do some sort of experiment or observation. Luckily I stumbled across this activity about recreating craters on the moon’s surface on I think it was Pinterest. It coincided nicely with my daughter’s latest request to experiment to see what flour mixed with flour would feel like.
First I filled up one of our bins with a couple cups of flour:
Then added a layer of cocoa for some contrast (note for future reference: I left the cocoa kind fo pebbly but I think it might be better to smooth it out before starting the comet portion):
Next we found balls of different sizes and weights to try to see what different size craters they would make when they “impacted our moon”.
We observed how when they hit the “surface” it kicked up a cloud of dust into the air and talked about how this could stay in the air for a really long time. We also looked at the different size dents and how deep the dents were when we dropped the different size balls. She dropped them over and over to see how the craters would start to overlap and how it started to look like the surface of the moon.
Then we moved on to the seeing what water and flour mixed together felt like so I thought it prudent to move it outside. Thank goodness I did. First off it was great weather and we actually had a great view of the moon and talked about how the different colors were actually craters on the moon.
Then came the dirty phase of fun. Even my 16 month old had a blast. I gave them a few things out of the kitchen: funnels, measuring cups, bowls, a strainer, etc.
My daughter really enjoyed feeling how gooey the mixture was and talked about how it was a “chocolate lake” (for those with kids who love Dora I’m sure you know what she was referring to.)
Once everything was nice and wet and gooey my daughter decided to see what would happen when our “comets” and “meteors” landed in water. My son loved helping with this part as you can see.
All in all they both had a lot of fun and I think my daughter is finally satisfied with how all those craters on the moon were created.