Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Fun Way to Teach Your Child About the Solar System

My 3 year old son (Nic) and I were playing with his Mega Blocks. I asked him what he wanted to build and he said "Spaceships." This came as no surprise as he has been saying lately how much he wants to be an astronaut so he can fly to the moon. We began building spaceships and I asked him where we should fly the spaceships. He wanted to go to the moon (no surprise). Off we go. After a safe landing on the moon and checking out Neil Armstrong's footprints and the flag, I asked, "Where should we go next?" The reply, "Jupiter!" That's when it hit me. I could use this playtime as an opportunity to teach.

I took out 8 different Mega Blocks and spaced them out on the living room floor. I told him that Jupiter was the biggest planet (so I used the biggest Mega Block) and showed him where it was in the solar system. Then we counted down, "5 - 4 -3 -2 -1, Blastoff!" We were on our way to Jupiter. After landing at Jupiter I asked him again what makes Jupiter special? He remembered, it's the biggest planet - YES!! He's learning! We then flew to Saturn, I told him Saturn was special because it had rings. We did the same thing for Neptune, the little blue Mega Block, (the coldest and furthest away, since Pluto doesn't count anymore....poor thing was demoted). Then we did it for Mercury, the little red Mega Block (the smallest and hottest). We then raced home to Earth. He really liked it when we raced between the planets! I thought I'd save Uranus, Venus and Mars for the next night. After we landed back home, he wanted to fly through the solar system again - GREAT! This time I played the command center. For example, "Command Center to Astronaut Nic, we need you to fly to the coldest planet, furthest away and report to us the name of the planet." He then flew to Neptune and said, "I'm at Neptune and it's very cold!" Woo Hoo!! He really is learning and doesn't even realize it. Command then directed him to the planet with rings. Nic then flew to Saturn and named the planet. We played this for about 45 minutes.

When I was tucking him in last night, I asked him again about the planets, which was coldest, which was smallest and hottest, which was biggest, which had the rings and which was our home planet. He got them all right. SCORE! I found a fun way to teach! I hope it works for you too!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. What a great idea.